BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  UK: England
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 26 April, 2002, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Pressure grows for Damilola inquiry
Damilola's final resting place in Plumstead south London
The Damilola case remains open despite no fresh leads
Pressure is growing for a review of police investigations into the death of schoolboy Damilola Taylor, after two teenage brothers were cleared of murder.

Lord Harris, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said the case must be re-examined, while Home Secretary David Blunkett said there were "lessons to be learned" for officers.

After 10 months in custody the brothers, who are both 16, are getting used to freedom and have described their relief at being found not guilty.

Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death in a stairwell in November 2000
They will also be speaking to their lawyer about the possibility of suing the police.

Damilola's grieving parents, Gloria and Richard Taylor, have spoken of their despair and demanded that someone "should pay" for his death.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bill Griffiths told BBC Radio 4's Today programme his officers knew the case had weaknesses, but going to court was the right decision.


Following the not guilty verdicts Lord Harris expressed his sympathy to Damilola's parents about the failure to reach a "proper resolution".

It means the police get a knock-back, which is very bad indeed because we need to build morale and confidence

David Blunkett

He said discussions had been held with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens about the need to learn lessons from the case, including the use of vulnerable witnesses.

He said: "Since the death of Stephen Lawrence, improvements have been made to family and community liaison. It is equally essential that we look at what lessons can be learnt from this tragedy."

Commenting on the verdict Mr Blunkett said: "It means the police get a knock back, which is very bad indeed because we need to build morale and confidence that we can catch and convict the criminals."

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said he will question Sir John Stevens about the quality of murder investigations.

Dismissing claims that the case went to court before it was ready, Mr Griffiths said months were spent making it as strong as possible.

But he said: "We gathered all the evidence we had, we knew it was not a straightforward case, it was not the strongest case, and we went to the Crown with what we had."

'Happy and relieved'

After the verdict, it emerged the two brothers have a history of minor convictions, and have faced more serious charges including assault, indecent assault and intimidation of witnesses.

I believe that someone stabbed my son and I believe the person that did that heinous crime should pay

Richard Taylor
They were cleared of murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob. Two other defendants, aged 14 and 17, had previously been cleared on the direction of the judge.

The boys told the Daily Mirror newspaper that they "felt sorry" for Damilola's family.

Boy A said: "I was happy and relieved for me and my brother but I looked over at Damilola's parents and I felt sorry for them because they wanted justice."

Their mother said: "Of course I am happy and relieved they were acquitted but I am also angry with the police for taking so many months from my family's life."

'Terrible blow'

Speaking to the Daily Express Richard Taylor, 46, said: "I am ashamed to say that this is a society where a little boy cannot get justice.

Damilola Taylor's parents
Damilola's mother and father say there has been "no justice"
"The jury's decision to discharge the suspects is a terrible blow to our family and I don't believe that justice has been given to the innocent soul who was murdered."

Mr Taylor said the British legal system weighed too heavily in favour of the suspects.

He said: "I believe that someone stabbed my son and I believe the person that did that heinous crime should pay."

The BBC's Samantha Simmonds
"Police were under pressure from the start"
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories