The two men, now in their 30s, were found guilty by an Old Bailey jury after a trial based on forensic evidence. Blood stains found on Dobson’s jacket could only have come from Lawrence, it was concluded.

Dobson and Norris have both proclaimed their innocence and as Dobson was led away, he told the court, “You have condemned an innocent man”.

Stephen Lawrence’s parents Doreen and Neville broke down in tears as the verdicts were delivered.

However the teenager’s mother criticised the original police inquiry.

“How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police had not failed so miserably to find son’s killers,” she said.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police acting deputy commissioner said: “It’s a matter of huge regret to the Met that it has taken 18 years to get to this point.”

Duwayne Brooks, Stephen’s best friend who had been with him on the night of the murder, tweeted: “Some justice at last”.

The judge, Justice Treacy, said Dobson and Norris would be sentenced tomorrow.

It only emerged today that Dobson is currently serving five years for drug offences while Norris was jailed in 2002 for racial attack on a black off-duty policeman.

Norris has previously been found not guilty of stabbing a young white man in the chest with a miniature sword after a row in an Eltham street.

The court also learned that David Norris’s father, Clifford Norris, was a notorious South London gangster who was on the run at the time of Stephen’s murder and was later jailed for nine years for drug trafficking.

Dobson and Norris were part of a gang of white youths who racially abused Lawrence before stabbing him to death in 1993.

The pair had told the jury they were not involved in the murder. Dobson said he was at home at the time and Norris said he could not recall where he was.

However, after three days of deliberation, the jury rejected their defences and both men have been found guilty of murder.