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Failed by the system


DAMILOLA TAYLOR was failed by the system, his father Richard said as his sons killers prepare to walk free in just three years.

Damilola Taylor
Damilola Taylor: After six years the “justice” hardly matches the crime.

Following the sentencing of brothers Danny, 18, and Ricky Preddie, 17, for the murder of Damilola in 2000, Richard Taylor criticised the justice system.

He said: 'From the outside this case has been a catalogue of failures. Failure by the system to keep these young people in school and off the streets from committing crime.

'The convictions will not bring Damilola back and we question whether these sentences will act as an appropriate deterrent to other potential criminals.'

The Preddie brothers, who were aged 12 and 13 at the time, were found guilty of manslaughter after they stabbed Damilola with a broken bottle in the leg on an estate in Peckham, south London, and then ran away as he bled to death.

It has taken three Old Bailey trials to bring Damilola's killers to justice in a case that has been marred by a series of errors such as crucial blood stains being missed by forensic scientists.


The Taylor family expressed dismay at the jail terms of eight years each for the Preddie brothers, and news that they could both be back on the streets in three years after the time they have already served on remand is taken into account.

Gloria and Richard Taylor
Agony: Gloria and Richard Taylor have endured six years of hell.

Four suspects, that did not include the Preddie's, were cleared of ten-year-old Damilola's murder in 2002 when the state prosecution brought a case resting almost entirely on the testimony of a disturbed 14-yer-old girl known as Bromley.

The star witness was exposed in the dock as a liar and someone who had been coaxed to give evidence by police and “bribed” with incentives such as spending money, new trainers and phone credits.

A second trial, involving the Preddie brothers and another suspect Hassan Jihad, folded earlier this year when evidence of the original bungled police investigation led to a jury deadlock.


The Preddies had been named as the killers within 24 hours of Damilola’s death and were arrested within five days. But clues missed by Forensic Science Service

Ricky (left) and Danny Preddie
Ricky (left) and Danny Preddie

The Preddie's were members of the notorious Peckham Boys, a gang that is linked to an ongoing spiral of crime and which has contributed to an atmosphere of fear across south London.

 Aspokeswoman for the Damilola Taylor Trust has warned of the dangers of gang culture. Heidi Watson said: 'Gang culture is increasing in this country. It is something that is being sold to them from the American market.

'It is made to look cool and they are made to believe that the gang culture that exists in America is here already. It is not. But it is nearly here. If we don't do something now to stop it, it will be here.'

Gloria, the mother of Damilola, said her son was being bullied prior to his death. She said: 'He said he was being bullied by the boys. I asked him if he knew them and he said he did not know their names. He said he would bring the names on Friday.

'I arrived with him at the school on the Monday and I was waiting for him to come home with those names on that Monday. I did not know he would not get to the house.'

Detective Superintendent Nick Ephgrave commented that the attack was 'bullying taken to an extreme form, where violence taken to weak and vulnerable children is seen not just as acceptable but part of the fun. It grieves me that we live in a world where that kind of thing happens.'

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