Stephen Lawrence murder suspect Neil Acourt is pictured after being freed from prison last week 

One of the thugs suspected of murdering Stephen Lawrence in a racist killing that rocked Britain has been spotted enjoying his freedom following his jail release.

Neil Acourt was seen just two miles from where the teenager was stabbed to death in 1993.

The 43-year-old donned a flat cap on his shaven head as a friend picked him up from home in a white van.

Acourt (pictured) was spotted just two miles away from the spot where Stephen was stabbed to death  

Neil Acourt, one of five youths charged but never convicted of the murder of black London teenager Stephen Lawrence leaves the inquiry in on June 29, 1998

Neil Acourt, one of five youths charged but never convicted of the murder of black London teenager Stephen Lawrence leaves the inquiry in on June 29, 1998

He helped his friend load tools into the vehicle before the pair headed off together in pictured revealed by the Mirror Online.

Acourt (pictured) was released last week

Acourt (pictured) was released last week

One of five people accused of stabbing the 18-year-old to death, he was let out of jail last week.

Police suspected Acourt led the gang that murdered the youngster at a bus stop in Eltham, South East London. 

The bungled initial investigation into his death was beset by claims of racism, corruption and incompetence.

It took nearly 20 years for two of Stephen’s five or six killers finally to be brought to justice, after double-jeopardy rules were amended to allow new evidence to be presented at a later trail.

Acourt was serving time for his role in a £4million cannabis plot. He served two years of a six-year sentence.

A person who saw him getting into the van commented: ‘You’d never guess he’d just got out of prison. He looked like any other white van man – and they’re 10 a penny round here.’

In 1997 after an inquest into Stephen’s death, the Daily Mail ran a dramatic front-page publicly accusing five men of his murder – including Acourt and his brother Jamie, who was jailed in December 2018 for nine years on drugs charges.  

Neil Acourt, 43 (police mugshot pictured) will be released on Monday after serving less than half of the six-year sentence imposed on him in February 2017

Stephen Lawrence, 18, was fatally stabbed by a gang of racists in Eltham, south-east London, on April 22 1993

Neil Acourt (police mugshot left), one of five men suspected of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 (pictured right), walked free from prison last week

Neil Acourt goaded onlookers as he left the Old Bailey after giving evidence at the public inquiry into the racist murder

Neil Acourt goaded onlookers as he left the Old Bailey after giving evidence at the public inquiry into the racist murder

Gary Dobson

David Norris

It took reform of the UK’s double jeopardy law for Gary Dobson, 41, left, to be convicted of Stephen’s murder. David Norris, right, was jailed for 14 years for the murder

Now with Britain in the grip of a knife-crime epidemic which has taken 27 lives already this year, Acourt – who was once filmed threatening to ‘chop up n***ers’ while miming a stabbing action with a kitchen knife is free from jail.

He spent a year on remand before his trial, and is being freed on lic­ence after two years of his sentence. 

The Daily Mail accuses Gary Dobson, Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt, Luke Knight and David Norris of the murder of black teenager, Stephen Lawrence

Officers suspected that Acourt was the leader of the gang that stabbed Stephen to death at a bus stop. 

He has always denied having any involvement in the killing but covert filming exposed him as a vile and dangerous racist.  

The father-of-one was accused of Stephen’s murder but charges were dropped because of lack of evidence in 1993. 

The following year, police uncovered a video of him miming a stabbing motion as he said: ‘I reckon every n***** should be chopped up, mate, and should be left with nothing but f****** stumps.’ 

Acourt, his brother Jamie, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight, and David Norris hit out at crowds during an inquiry into the Met’s handling of the case in 1998.

Dobson and Norris were convicted of Stephen’s murder in 2012 when fresh forensic evidence bound them to the killing.      

The inquiry into the police’s handling of the original case, led by high court judge William Macpherson, accused the force of ‘institutional racism’.

It made 70 recommendations including greater oversight of the police, greater powers to discipline officers, and the definition of a racist incident to be extended to ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’. 

Stephen Lawrence case timeline

April 22, 1993: Stephen is stabbed to death in an unprovoked racist attack in Eltham, South-East London. Within days Neil and Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris are identified as prime suspects.

July 1993: Prosecutors drop a case against Neil Acourt and Luke Knight. Months later an inquest is halted amid claims of ‘dramatic’ new evidence.

April 1996: An Old Bailey private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family against Neil Acourt, Knight and Dobson collapses.

February 1997: An inquest jury finds Stephen was ‘unlawfully killed by five white youths’. The next day this newspaper accuses all five men under the front page headline ‘Murderers’.

Neville Lawrence, father of Stephen Lawrence, speaks outside the Home Office in London, after meeting Home Secretary Theresa May.

Stuart Lawrence speaking during a memorial service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Stephen’s father Neville, left, and brother Stuart, right, at a memorial service last year

February 1999: The Macpherson report finds police guilty of an appalling catalogue of mistakes and ‘institutional racism’.

April 2005: The double jeopardy principle, preventing suspects being tried twice for the same crime, is scrapped for certain offences when there is compelling new evidence.

November 2007: Scotland Yard confirms it is investigating new forensic evidence.

May 2011: The Court of Appeal agrees Dobson’s 1996 acquittal for the murder can be quashed and he can be put on trial again.

January 2012: Dobson and Norris are found guilty of Stephen’s murder.

September 2016: Police announce they have received ‘significant information’ after a fresh appeal to identify a woman whose DNA was found on a bag strap left at the murder scene.

April 2018: Scotland Yard admits it has no new lines of inquiry in the investigation into Stephen’s murder and was preparing to shelve it.

February 2019:  Cressida Dick said ‘a small handful’ of officers remain working on the case.