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Murder of Philip Lawrence: Wikis


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The murder of Philip Lawrence was an event that took place on 8 December 1995. Philip Ambrose Lawrence QGM, a London-based headmaster, was stabbed to death outside the gates of his school when he went to the aid of a pupil who was being attacked by a gang.



Lawrence was born on 21 August 1947 in Dublin, the son of a retired Indian Army colonel, and was brought up in County Wicklow. He attended Ampleforth College and won an exhibition to read English at Queens' College, Cambridge, being awarded his BA in 1969 and his MA in 1970.

In the 1970s, he taught English at St. Benedict's School at Ealing Abbey, a Roman Catholic independent school. On 10 February 1973, he married Frances Huntley, a fellow teacher at the school; they had three daughters and a son.

Lawrence later became the Head of English at Gunnersbury Boys' School in Brentford, Deputy Headmaster at St.Mark's RC School in Hounslow and then headmaster of Dick Sheppard School, a Lambeth comprehensive. In 1993, he was appointed headmaster of St. George's Roman Catholic School, Maida Vale in North London, regarded as a rough school with poor exam results. He improved the academic reputation of the school, but problems with violence continued.


The Wo Shing Wo gang, which was mainly Filipino, aspired to be a junior version of the Triads. Twelve of the gang's members, led by 15-year old Learco Chindamo, a pupil at another school who claimed to be a Triad member, went to St. George's school on 8 December 1995, to "punish" a 13-year old black student named William Njoh, who had quarrelled with a Filipino pupil. Lawrence saw them attack the boy with an iron bar and went outside to remonstrate with the gang. Chindamo punched him and then stabbed him in the chest, and he died in hospital that evening.

Chindamo was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey in October 1996, after a unanimous decision by the jury, and jailed indefinitely (as he was a juvenile at the time). The trial judge recommended that a minimum of 12 years should be served.[1] He has always claimed that he was the victim of mistaken identity, and that the real killer was another boy who had borrowed his jacket, although he does not deny that he was present. During the trial it was shown that Chindamo's claim of links to Chinese Triad society was pure fantasy.

On 10 October 1997, however, he lost his appeal. He was also a suspect in the non-fatal stabbing of a man named John Mills (not the actor) during a mugging in Camden several months before Lawrence's death. Chindamo was born in Italy to an Italian father and Filipino mother.

Njoh himself was sentenced to four and a half years in 2003 for carrying a gun to London's Notting Hill Carnival.


The case increased the level of concern expressed about levels of violence involving school-age youths, and the safety of pupils and staff while in school, which were beginning to become a public issue in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s.

Lawrence was posthumously awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal (QGM) on 14 June 1997.[2]

The Philip Lawrence Awards were instituted by the then Home Secretary Michael Howard in Lawrence's honour, and were first presented on 15 March 1997. They honour outstanding achievement by young people aged between 11 and 20. Frances Lawrence, widow of Philip Lawrence, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours for services to charity for her role in setting up the award.[3]

The Philip Lawrence murder, combined with the Dunblane massacre and Wolverhampton nursery machete attack (both of which happened within seven months of Mr Lawrence's death), resulted in improvements to security in primary and secondary schools across Britain, particularly in areas with high crime rates.

Chindamo deportation controversy

In August 2007, an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled that Chindamo could not be deported to his home country of Italy on completion of his prison sentence, as doing so would allegedly breach his human rights.[4] Although the Home Office argued that Chindamo presented a "present and serious threat" to society, the tribunal disagreed; they also argued that Chindamo had a right to a "family life" under the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998.[5] The decision was severely criticised by Frances Lawrence, widow of the murdered headteacher Philip Lawrence.[1] Opposition leader David Cameron argued that the case highlighted the need for a fundamental review of human rights legislation in the United Kingdom, including the abolition of the Human Rights Act 1998 and its replacement with a "British Bill of Rights".[6]


  1. ^ a b Lawrence killer to remain in UK, BBC News, 20 August 2007
  2. ^ London Gazette, 13 June 1997
  3. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59090, p. 19, 13 June 2009.
  4. ^ Q&A: Chindamo deportation case, BBC News, 22 August 2007
  5. ^ Learco Chindamo: The deportation debate, 24 August 2007, Daily Telegraph
  6. ^ David Cameron: Scrap the Human Rights Act, 24 August 2007, Daily Telegraph

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