African News

Nigerian Boy’s Death: Murder Trial Heats Up

31 January 2006 at 04:26 | 582 views

By Abu B. Shaw, Vanguard London Bureau Chief.

New clues leading to the killers of murdered Nigerian teenager Damilola Taylor have been unearthed by London police. The re-examination of the case came about after four youths were cleared in 2002 of the killing of the ten-year-old African school boy.

Jurors hearing the case at the Old Bailey court in London recently were told of blood spots and clothing fibres linking three youths. These clues were initially missed by police during their investigations. The new clues may likely nail the killers.

The new evidence led investigators back to these three teenagers - two of them are brothers aged 12 and 13 and the third 14 - who were arrested in the weeks shortly after the murder of the Nigerian school boy back in November 27, 2000 in Peckham, South East London.

A sports trainer belonging to one of the suspected youths was discovered with a blood stain on its heel. The blood stain is allegedly believed to be that of the murdered Nigerian Damilola Taylor who was stabbed with a broken beer bottle and subsequently bled to death on the stairways of a Peckham estate.

Insufficient evidence at the first trial in 2002 led to the acquittal of the four boys. In the second trial at the Old Bailey in London on January 24, 2006, Prosecutor Victor Temple QC noted in court that the latest scientific evidence would be vital to the new case.

Investigating police have found blood on the right cuff of a shirt belonging to the 13-year-old youth and the victim’s blood was also found on the trainer of the 12-year-old who is believed to be the younger brother. Damilola’s distinctive silver jacket he was wearing before his tragic death was discovered to have blue fibre. The blue fibre is alleged to have come from the elder brother’s sweatshirt.

Prosecutor Temple said: “The totality of evidence now available points with certainty to the criminal involvement of these three defendants and demonstrate their participation in the fatal assault of Damilola Taylor.”

Nigerian-born Damilola was walking home from a library on November 27, 2000, when he suffered a callous and brutal attack after standing up to youths trying to mug him. A broken beer bottle was thrust in to his inner left thigh and twisted causing extensive damage and bleeding.

Lawyer Temple said: “In consequence, the three defendants resorted to the level of violence they anticipated would occur if they met with resistance, namely the use of the bottle to cause really serious bodily harm.”

A star witness, Mr. Carpenter Guillermo Casal, who followed a trail of blood found Damilola groaning as he leant against a stairwell wall in a nearby block. The lawyer told the court: “The little boy looked at Mr. Casal but almost immediately fell to the floor. Blood was pouring from the area of his groin and down the leg.”

Damilola told Mr. Casal he was “OK”, but the lawyer explained: “It was all too clear the boy was not. He was dying and all he could do was groan. As Mr. Casal waited for an ambulance, he spotted three black youths in the road,” the prosecutor told jurors.

QC Temple added: “One of them looked towards Mr. Casal and proceeded to make a gesture with his left hand across the thigh of his left leg. This was the older brother, whom he said was left-handed. Damilola was later pronounced dead in hospital.”

The brothers, now 17 and 18 could not be named for legal reasons. Both hail from South London. The third suspect Hassan Jihad, 20, also came from the same area. All three pleaded not guilty to murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.

As always, Mr Richard and Mrs Gloria Taylor, Damilola’s anguished parents were present in court, to hear the new evidence. The trial continues.

Photo: The late Damilola Taylor