African News

London: Damilola’s Killers Found Guilty

13 August 2006 at 21:29 | 538 views

By Abu B. Shaw, Vanguard London Bureau Chief

After six years, three prolonged trials and an expenditure of 16 million
pounds sterling, the killers of the Nigerian teenager, Damilola Taylor, have
finally been found guilty of manslaughter.

With dignity and calm, the parents of Damilola Taylor emerged from the Old
Bailey court in London and read a statement shortly after the verdict was
passed on Wednesday August 9.

Mr. Richard Taylor, standing by his wife
Gloria, said: “No verdict can return our son to us. But it’s a great comfort
justice has finally been done for Damilola. We pray that his gentle soul can
rest in peace.”

The reaction of one of the convicted brothers, Ricky Preddie, was a stark
contrast to the Taylors’. Elder brother Ricky yelled in court when the jury
pronounced the guilty verdict: “You must be crazy! Guilty? I’m innocent.
You’re gonna pay. We’re the Untouchables,” he blasted the jurors. Police
officers and ten security guards had to restrain Ricky.

Lord Stevens, the police officer who successfully led the investigations of
the third trial was relieved the brothers had at last been brought
to justice. He however described as ‘quite extraordinary’ reports that the
brothers could be free within three years. This has sent shock waves within
the criminal justice system in England and Wales.

The Home Office and Forensic Science Service have, meanwhile, ordered
immediate investigations in to why crucial scientific evidence was missed
during the first and second trials in the Damilola Taylor case. The laboratory which
first examined the blood-stained clothes and shoes of the Preddie brothers
will now probe why such vital evidence escaped their eagle eyes.

Bothers Ricky and Danny, who were acquitted of the murder of Damilola
earlier this year, were 13 and 12 years old respectively, when Damilola was
stabbed on his leg with a broken beer bottle in South London in November
2000. Damilola bled to death on the stairs of a Peckham estate just three
months after arriving to England from Nigeria.

Police believe the fatal blow was struck by Ricky while his brother Danny
and other members of their gang, the Young Peckham Boys, looked on. At the
time of the killing Danny was meant to be under 24-hour curfew at a
children’s home whilst Ricky was also being monitored by the probation

Ricky, 19, had escaped trial with brother, Danny, over a sexual attack of an
11-year-old before and had also been convicted of robbery.

Danny, 18, was
accused of using a baseball bat and knives in a series of robberies and
assaults. Both brothers are awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of killing the teenager.

Photo: Danny, left and Ricky, right.