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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 17:43 GMT
Girl 'heard Damilola cry for help'
CCTV footage of Damilola Taylor
Damilola on CCTV shortly before the alleged attack
A 14-year-old girl who is the key prosecution witness in the Damilola Taylor murder trial has told how she saw the 10-year-old being attacked.

Hidden behind a heavy green velvet curtain, the girl told the Old Bailey jury she heard the youngster cry "help".

The girl, who was 12 at the time of the alleged attack, named three of the youths facing trial for Damilola's murder and said she knew the fourth attacker by sight.

I thought they were just robbing someone

Witness, 14

Damilola bled to death on 27 November 2000, from a thigh wound caused by a broken beer bottle on the south London estate where he lived.

Two brothers aged 16, their 17-year-old friend and a 14-year-old boy deny murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.

The defendants cannot be named for legal reasons.

Bottle 'passed round'

Because of her youth, the girl can be seen only by the judge, jury and those questioning her. Her evidence is being relayed to the rest of the court by video monitor.

The court was told she was the only witness to the alleged attack - but she did not see who allegedly stabbed Damilola.

She told the court she was walking home from school when she saw the four youths turning into Blakes Road, Peckham.

Damilola Taylor's parents
Damilola's mother and father were in court

By the time she turned into the road, the youths had surrounded a little boy, she told the court.

She said she was across the road because she did not want the boys to see her.

She added: "I thought they was talking and then they started moving their hand over. I thought they were just robbing someone."

Mark Dennis, prosecuting, alleged that the girl watched as the 17-year-old smashed the green bottle and handed it to one of the brothers.

It was alleged the 17-year-old and the 14-year-old turned their backs and appeared to act as lookouts.

"They passed the bottle round," she said.

999 call

She told police she was hiding behind a car when Damilola was stabbed in the thigh.

"He was saying 'help' but he got robbed and I didn't really want to go up to him because I might have got in trouble for it," she said.

She followed the boys as they ran off and found Damilola had gone by the time she returned.

She said she then went home and only realised the boy had died the next day when she saw it on the news.

The court heard that it was almost a month later before she made a 999 call to police to tell them what she had seen.

It's a boy bleeding to death - he's actually bleeding to death

Bill Casale

She was afraid, the jury was told, because one of the accused was a school friend.

She was also concerned she would be thought badly of because she had not helped Damilola, the court heard.

Another month passed before she revealed her identity to police.

Courtney Griffiths QC, defending, accused the teenager of making up her account, and she admitted she had lied to police in statements.

He suggested she liked being the "centre of attention" and that was why she called the police.

The girl then pleaded to go home after angrily insisting that she did not like the way Mr Griffiths was speaking to her.

'He's bleeding'

"You're talking to me like I'm a little girl," she said.

"You may think I'm a liar because I told a lie twice, but I'm not a liar."

When Mr Griffiths objected, she responded: "I might as well just answer two more questions then."

Earlier the court heard a harrowing tape-recording of a frantic 999 call made by a passer-by who found Damilola slumped in a stairwell.

Carpenter Bill Casale is heard saying: "It's a boy bleeding to death. He's actually bleeding to death."

The trial has been adjourned.

The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"A curtain and a screen hid the young witness"
The BBC's Andy Tighe
"She is a central part of the prosecution's case"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout





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