Death of Damilola Taylor
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|Date||27 November 2000|
|Location||Peckham, London, England|
|Convicted||Ricky Preddie, Danny Preddie|
On 27 November 2000, ten-year-old schoolboy Damilola Taylor was killed in England, in what became one of the country's most high-profile killings. 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 (aged 10)|
Peckham, London, England
|Cause of death||Stabbing|
|Known for||Murder victim|
|Parent(s)||Richard Taylor (father)|
Gloria Taylor (mother; died of heart attack)
Damilola Taylor was born in Lagos, Nigeria to Richard and Gloria Taylor (died 8 April 2008). He attended Wisdom Montessori School in 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.
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, severing an artery. Staggering 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 boy (not one of the first four suspects) Daniel Preddie and on the sweatshirt cuff of his brother Richard Preddie. This led to a re-examination of the evidence obtained at the time of Taylor's death. 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.[better source needed] Danny was released in 2011. Ricky was recalled on 13 March 2011 because he was seen in Peckham, and for associating with gang members, both contrary to his parole conditions. He was released again on 25 January 2012. He was again recalled to prison sixteen days later, in February 2012, after again associating with gang members in Peckham, in breach of the terms of his release. Taylor's father called for a public inquiry into the handling of the case. Ricky Preddie was released again in July 2012, but was jailed again in December 2013 for five months following a high-speed chase on a stolen motorbike. In November 2017, he was jailed again for six weeks for driving offences, and for an additional four weeks for failing to appear at his court hearing. In February 2020 he was jailed for four years for driving into a female police officer.
In popular culture
Children's author Beverley Naidoo dedicated her award-winning book "The Other Side of Truth" (2000), about two Nigerian child refugees aged 10 and 12, to Damilola Taylor. She recalled how when she went to accept the Smarties Silver Award for the book, Naidoo heard the shocking news of Damilola Taylor's death on his way home from Peckham Library, which was a relevant area in the novel. As a result, she organised an ongoing donation of 10p to the Refugee Council from every book sold.
Actor John Boyega and his sister Grace were some of the last people to see Damilola alive. The three were friends and the Boyegas helped watch Taylor. John and Grace Boyega were very close to Damilola, who had arrived from Nigeria in 1999.
- Allen, Nick (9 April 2008). "Damilola Taylor's mother Gloria dies". Telegraph. London.
- "Damilola Taylor's mother dies of a suspected heart attack near where he was murdered 10 years ago". Mail Online. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
- Graff, Vincent (4 April 2015) "DNA of a killer", Radio Times, Pages 24–27
- Stubley, Peter (2010) Damilola Taylor: Welcome to modern Britain Court News UK, Retrieved 3 April 2015
- "'Fall on glass killed Damilola'". BBC News. 7 March 2006.
- "Damilola Taylor: Timeline". BBC News. 9 August 2006.
- Tendler, Stewart (10 August 2006). "His killers were street children, fearless and brutal with no remorse". The Times. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008.
- (9 December 2002) Damilola case 'exposed legal flaws' BBC News, UK, Retrieved 5 April 2015
- "Eight years for Damilola killers". BBC News. 9 October 2006.
- Edwards, Richard (8 September 2010). "Damilola Taylor's killer Ricky Preddie released". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Owens, Nick (12 September 2013) Ricky Preddie is sorry for killing Damilola, says mum Daily Mirror, retrieved 3 April 2015
- Mackay, Don (26 January 2012) [14 March 2011]. "Damilola Taylor's killer Ricky Preddie is recalled to prison". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
- "Damilola Taylor killer Ricky Preddie released from jail". BBC News. 25 January 2012.
- "Damilola Taylor killer Ricky Preddie recalled to prison". London: BBC. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
- Hope, Julia (2017). Children's Literature About Refugees: A Catalyst in the Classroom. UCL/IOE Press. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-85856-696-2.
- "Stephen Kelman: 'I feel that I've gatecrashed the Booker Prize shortlist'". The London Evening Standard, 7 September 2011.
- "Star Wars' John Boyega was one of last people to see Damilola Taylor alive, says father". The Guardian. Press Association. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
- McIntosh, Steven (7 November 2016). "Damilola Taylor: TV drama tells the story behind the headlines". BBC. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- "Damilola: Carefree boy with big dreams". BBC News. 30 January 2002. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- "Damilola Taylor: Timeline". BBC News. 9 August 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- Patrick Wintour and Vikram Dodd (12 April 2007). "Blair blames spate of murders on black culture". London: Politics.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- Bennetto, Jason (27 April 2006). "Black people are 'four times more likely to be murdered' – Crime, UK – The Independent". London: News.independent.co.uk. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- Griffiths, Emma (9 August 2006). "Damilola blood spots 'missed'". BBC News. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- "Damilola murder accused in court". BBC News. 7 January 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- "Trio in court over Damilola death". BBC News. 23 January 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2010.