Death of Damilola Taylor
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2010)|
|Date||27 November 2000|
|Location||Peckham, London, England|
|Suspect(s)||Ricky Preddie, Danny Preddie|
Damilola Taylor (7 December 1989 – 27 November 2000) was a ten-year-old Nigerian schoolboy who died in England. Several young boys were cleared of murder charges after a lengthy trial, and later two brothers were convicted of manslaughter.
7 December 1989
|Died||27 November 2000
Peckham, London, England
|Cause of death||Stabbing|
|Residence||London, England, UK|
|Known for||Murder victim|
|Home town||Lagos, Nigeria|
|Parent(s)||Richard Taylor (father)
Gloria Taylor (mother; deceased)
Damilola Taylor was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to Richard and Gloria Taylor (died 8 April 2008). He attended Wisdom Montessori School, Ikosi, Ketu, Lagos, before he travelled to the United Kingdom in August 2000 with his family to allow his sister Gbemi to seek treatment for epilepsy. Damilola, with his family, moved into the North Peckham estate and he began to attend the local school. Taylor was doing well at school. Teachers were impressed by his ability and his enthusiasm. Mr Parsons said: "He was slowly making friends and settling into the school. He was a boisterous, fun, smiling boy. If I think about him I think of him smiling." But there were signs that the new boy was being bullied. On Friday, three days before his death, he returned home to tell his mother he was being called names and had been beaten up. Mrs Taylor was so concerned that at the first opportunity, on Monday morning, she escorted her son to school to talk to Mr Parsons. She said: "They were calling him names and saying things like 'fuck your mother'. He asked me, 'Mum, what is the meaning of gay?' These boys were calling him gay and I said, 'Do not listen to them'. I said, 'Go and report it to the school teacher', and when he came home he said he reported it but the teacher did not know who was telling the truth."
On 27 November 2000, Taylor set off from Peckham Library at 4:51 pm to make his way home. He was captured on CCTV as he walked away. On approaching the North Peckham Estate he received a gash to his left thigh. Running to a stairwell, he collapsed and bled to near death in the space of approximately 30 minutes. He was still alive in an ambulance on his way to hospital.
Different forensic scientists have presented different events that could have given Taylor his fatal wounds. The theory accepted by the Metropolitan Police is that he was attacked and fell on a broken bottle, later bleeding to death. He died 10 days before his 11th birthday.
In 2002, four youths, including two 16-year-old brothers, went on trial at the Old Bailey for the murder of Damilola. The trial led to all four suspects being acquitted. Two were acquitted on the direction of the judge after he ruled that the prosecution's key witness, a 14-year-old girl, was unreliable; the jury found the other two not guilty. As well as questioning the reliability of the young witness, the defence presented evidence suggesting that Taylor's wounds were consistent with his falling on a broken bottle and that he had not been the victim of an attack.
Despite the setback, police vowed to keep the investigation open. New DNA techniques identified Damilola's blood on the trainers of another suspect (not one of the first four suspects) Danny Preddie and on the sweatshirt cuff of his brother Ricky Preddie. This led to a re-examination of the evidence obtained at the time of Taylor's death (e.g. Ricky Preddle had wounds on his hand that could have been caused by broken glass, two witnesses said that the Preddie brothers had admitted to the crime in the weeks after Damilola's death and fibres on the clothing of the Preddle brothers and a mugger called Hassan Jihad matched Damilola's jersey). In 2005, fresh arrests were made, this time on charges of manslaughter. The arrested were Hassan Jihad, 19, and the two Preddie brothers aged 16 and 17 who could not be named at the time due to their age.
On 23 January 2006, Jihad (now 21 years old) and the two brothers (aged 17 and 18) not named for legal reasons, appeared at the Old Bailey to face charges of his manslaughter and assault before the start of their imminent trial.
The trial commenced on 24 January 2006. In the trial Alastair Wilson, associate clinical director at the Royal London Hospital and one of Britain's top trauma experts, testified that he thought that Taylor had died after falling on a shard of glass.
On 29 March, the jury retired to consider its verdict. On 3 April, Jihad was cleared by the jury of all charges in relation to Damilola's death. The jury could not reach a verdict on the charges of manslaughter against the two brothers, so they were set free, but with the possibility of a retrial on those charges. On 6 April, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that the two would be re-tried.
Retrial for manslaughter
The retrial of the two brothers began on 23 June. The two brothers, then over 18, were named as Danny and Ricky Preddie, of Peckham, south London. Both defendants were very well known to police, being involved in multiple robberies.
During the retrial it was noted that, while the police did follow procedure collecting evidence, lapses occurred in the prosecution.
On 9 October 2006, an Old Bailey judge sentenced the Preddie brothers to eight years in youth custody for manslaughter.
Although it was widely reported in the media that Taylor's parents were unhappy that the sentences had not been longer, the judge, Mr Justice Goldring, went to some lengths to explain the factors he was forced to take into account. These included the age of the offenders at the time (12 and 13), and that there was no evidence to suggest that there had been a plan to kill Taylor. In addition, the weapon used had not been carried to the scene of the crime, but was found lying on the ground.
Both brothers were set to be paroled in 2010 after serving half of their sentence. Ricky was released on 8 September 2010, subject to probation supervision, and subject to recall to custody if he breached the conditions or if his behaviour indicated that it was no longer safe to allow him to remain in the community. Ricky was reported in 2010 to have told his mother he was deeply sorry for killing Damilola. Danny was released in 2011. Ricky was recalled on 13 March 2011 because he was seen in Peckham, and associating with gang members, both contrary to his parole conditions. He was released again on 25 January 2012. However, he was recalled to jail in February 2012 after a stolen motorbike was discovered at his bail hostel thus breaching the terms of release.
In popular culture
The Damilola Taylor Trust was set up by Taylor's parents in his memory, and quotes his writing shortly before his death: "I will travel far and wide to choose my destiny and remould the world, I know it is my destiny to defend the world, which I hope to achieve during my lifetime".
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- Damilola Taylor's mother dies
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||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2011)|
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- "Damilola Taylor: Timeline". BBC News. 2006-08-09. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- [dead link]
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- John, Cindi (2004-10-19). "The force behind Operation Trident". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Patrick Wintour and Vikram Dodd (12 April 2007). "Blair blames spate of murders on black culture". London: Politics.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
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