African News

London:Damilola’s killers out in 3 years

17 October 2006 at 13:48 | 604 views

By Abu B. Shaw, Vanguard London Bureau Chief

“The criminal justice system in England and Wales has betrayed Damilola
Taylor monumentally,” say critics shortly after killers of the Nigerian
teenager were sentenced to 8 years each. It means the two men could be out on the streets in less than three years.

Voicing his fury shortly after sentencing on Monday, October 9, 2006,
Damilola’s dad Richard Taylor, who had earlier called for the killers to be
given life, made clear his dismay describing the punishment as very lenient.

Flanked by his wife Gloria, 55, Mr. Taylor, noted the catalogue of failures
since the outset of this case. “We question whether these sentences will act
appropriately to deter potential criminals. Damilola’s murder reflects a
crisis within our communities in the UK. We acknowledge the efforts of the
police and government so far but we feel they are insufficient,” Damilola’s
dad said.

Mr. Taylor, 60, standing in front of the Old Bailey court in London, blasted
the justice system: “The sentence passed is not even a year for every one
that Damilola had. Although we understand the judge was guided by the law
and a desire to prevent the Preddie brothers appealing against his sentence,
it’s the system that’s at fault.”

The two brothers Danny Preddie, 18, and Ricky, 19, each got eight years
for murdering 10-year-old Damilola. But Ricky may be paroled in
two-and-a-half years time and Danny will be freed in three taking into
consideration their time spent on remand.

Danny and Ricky, who were just 12 and 13 years old when they brutally
killed Damilola in 2000, showed no remorse at the London court after the
judge pronounced the sentence.

The brothers’
supporters, wearing white T-shirts with ‘Free Tha Preddie Brothers’
emblazoned on the front exercised their democratic rights and chanted openly
for the release of the killers.

The brothers’ criminal record is dismal. Danny has had just four
months of freedom since he was 15. Calling their gang, ‘The Untouchables’
the thug brothers who killed just for the ‘respect’ it won them on streets,
murdered Damilola for being a good, happy and intelligent kid in school. CCTV
cameras caught Damilola that fateful day coming from the Peckham library
shortly before he was stabbed and a marble forced down his throat which
stopped his breathing.

‘The Untouchables’ are always lashing out at strangers, gauging trains,
beating and stealing from commuters according to reports. A source inside
the gang said they do these rowdy things to walk their way up the criminal

When Ricky and Danny were being led away in handcuffs after sentencing, they
arrogantly crossed their wrists and raised their hands in defiance. They
rained abusive language on the guards escorting them. The judge Mr. Justice
Goldring was not even spared the F... word.

Mr. Justice Goldring blasted: “Damilola must have been bleeding profusely
after attacking him with a broken bottle as he walked home in Peckham, South
London, in November 2000. You simply left him to die. Neither of you shows
regret or remorse.”

Judge Goldring said though the brothers were charged with manslaughter,
which carry a life term, he would not impose that because of their age six
years ago and the fact that the attack did not appear pre-planned. “It may
be that to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, the sentence will appear inadequate.
However, I cannot sentence on the basis of an intention to kill or cause
really serious injury. I have to sentence on the basis of defendants’ ages
at the time,” Justice Goldring addressed the court.

When Damilola was killed in 2000, many youths were arrested, including the
Preddies. Four of those held then were released at a trial in 2002. Last
year, after many blunders during police investigations, the brothers and a
third person were only charged with murder when forensic tests found blood
and fibres on their clothes and shoes that were initially missed by the

In April 2006, however, the Preddies and a third man were cleared of murder.
In August this year, following a retrial, the two brothers were charged with
manslaughter. They were subsequently found guilty of manslaughter and
immediately remanded in custody awaiting sentence.

Damilola’s parents confirmed that their late son told them just two days
before he was killed that vicious bullies have threatened him. Dad Richard
said: “I called him from Nigeria on the Saturday night. Damilola said the
boys planned to get rid of him. I reassured my son and told him that his
mother will go with him to school on Monday. Unfortunately, on that very
Monday, Damilola died.”

The editorial of the best selling newspaper in Britain, THE SUN dated
October 10, 2006, epitomised how the public feel about the outcome of
Damilola’s six years of trials and tribulations.

The editorial reads: “Yet again a judge talks tough - then says his hands
are tied on sentencing. Mr. Justice Goldring condemned Damilola Taylor’s
savage killers. They pose a high risk to others. Yet they will walk our
streets again in three years. The judge couldn’t give them life because they
didn’t own the broken bottle which killed Damilola. God help us. If that
counts as mitigation in the law’s eyes, the law must change.”

Photo: Ricky, left and Danny, right.