14/11/2011 12:38 GMT

Stephen Lawrence Murder Trial: Jurors Told History Of Case Is 'Irrelevant'

Potential jurors in the Stephen Lawrence murder trial have been told that the history of the case is "irrelevant" to the decision they have to make.

A panel of 24 possible jurors were chosen at the Old Bailey and told that they must come to a verdict "based only on what you hear and see in this courtroom".

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, both of south London, are accused of murdering 18-year-old Stephen in April 1993. They deny the charge.

The A-level student was stabbed by a gang of white youths at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London.

Stephen's parents, Doreen and Neville, sat in court 16 in seats next to the dock to see the beginning of the trial.

A total of 49 potential jurors were initially chosen before the pool was reduced to 24.

Current or former employees of the Metropolitan Police, forensic service and Crown Prosecution Service or their close family and friends were excluded, as were those with a detailed knowledge of the case.

Any potential jurors who live in Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley, Bexley or Bexleyheath have already been ruled out. The final 12 will be selected at random on Tuesday.

Mr Justice Treacy told the 24 that the past history of the case "is irrelevant for the purposes of the decision which you have to make".

He warned them that they will take a "solemn oath" to give a true verdict according to the evidence that they hear.