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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 16:46 GMT
Damilola witness clashes with defence
Floral tributes laid at place where Damilola died
Workmen discovered Damilola in this stairwell
A 14-year-old girl who is the key prosecution witness in the Damilola Taylor murder trial has been giving more evidence about the alleged attack, despite repeated arguments with the defence barrister.

She told the Old Bailey that, although she had seen Damilola being attacked by four youths, she did not see them wielding the broken bottle alleged to have inflicted the fatal wound.

She became agitated under cross-examination, claiming defence counsel Courtenay Griffiths QC was just trying make her "look bad".

You know what? I'm going home

Earlier, she had disrupted the hearing for a second day by walking out in anger after the name of her father's road was mentioned in defence questioning.

After just under half an hour of cross-examination, the girl suddenly left the courtroom, saying: "You know what? I am going home."

However, after 90 minutes she was persuaded to return to the witness box and the trial resumed.

The prosecution says the girl is the only witness to the alleged killing of Damilola, who bled to death from a thigh wound caused by a broken beer bottle near his home on the North Peckham Estate on 27 November 2000.

Two brothers aged 16, their 17-year-old friend and a 14-year-old boy are accused of murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob. They deny all the charges.

'Different stories'

After returning to court the girl protested when a transcript of a 999 call she had made to police in December 2000, to tell them what she knew, was read out.

Asked why she had called 999, she said: "It was all starting to get on my nerves because everyone was telling me about it and every time it was said, I kept getting upset.

The best thing you can do is remain calm and answer the questions

Mr Justice Hooper

"I had to hold it in and it was getting harder."

She angrily denied Mr Griffiths' suggestion she had made up her account from reports and gossip.

She admitted telling police "different stories", inventing some details, but said she had been afraid of getting into trouble.

In the call transcript, she gave the operator her name, but then gave a false name, and claimed that one of the defendants had called her and described the alleged attack.

The girl angrily told Mr Griffiths: "You don't have to read all of it [the transcript] because most of it is a lie anyway. You're just trying to make me look bad."

Police videos

The jury was also shown the first of a series of taped police interviews with the girl, in which she told a child protection officer she knew who killed Damilola "because they rang me up."

Earlier she said she had seen the boys stabbing Damilola, but did not see the bottle allegedly used.

I just thought he got robbed - it is nothing new, getting robbed

"I didn't see it [the bottle] actually," she said. "What I mean is, I didn't see it go in. I could see a hand movement."

She said she had been on her way to her father's home when she saw four youths surrounding a younger boy.

She had hidden across the street behind a car, assuming the 10-year-old was being robbed, and followed the four when they ran off.

She knew them and had wanted to say hello, but did not stop to check on Damilola as she did not want to get in trouble.

"I just thought he got robbed. It is nothing new, getting robbed."

'Remain calm'

The girl had earlier left court after being asked details of her journey on the day of the alleged attack.

Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death from a thigh wound

On returning she told the judge, Mr Justice Hooper, she had left because her father's road had been mentioned - leading to fears of identification.

But the judge told her it was an important case and she must endure the questioning.

"The best thing you can do is remain calm and answer the questions," he said.

The trial was also halted early on Monday when the girl asked to leave after arguing with Mr Griffiths, who had accused her of lying.

The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"The young witness admitted she had initially lied to police"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout





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