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Damilola Taylor
A reign of terror

As two brothers are found not guilty of the murder of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor, a special Panorama report tells Damilola's story, who he was and what happened to him.

It also investigates a local gang, some of whose members were accused of Damilola's murder, which inflicted a reign of terror on the North Peckham estate where Damilola and members of his family lived.

Damilola on CCTV camera
Damilola was last seen on a CCTV camera, walking home from the library
A 15 year-old girl talks exclusively to reporter Fergal Keane about how she and a friend were the subject of a group sexual assault by members of the gang:

"They started to touch us. We started screaming and asking them to get off us. There was people in the windows looking and they just went back in. After that they dragged us onto the floor and pushed us down. My head hit the wall and then hit the floor.


"They grabbed hold of me and they took all my clothes off and all my trouser down, and they entered me with something. I was screaming but they just didn't care. I kicked 'em, punched 'em and they just still didn't care. So after I got 'em off me, I tore my clothes.... I just pulled all my clothes up and ran outside.

I didn't want to live no more

A victim of 'the untouchables'
"Then they ran off and turned round and said 'You can't touch us, we're untouchable'."

When she reported the attack to the police the gang began a campaign of intimidation.

They would stand outside her house shouting abuse: "They were calling me a tart. You name it, they called me it. They called me a dog, a liar, anything they could say.

"It come to a point that I decided I didn't want to live no more. I took an overdose. I got rushed into hospital... I ended up being unconscious where I took so many pills."

The case went to court but was thrown out on a technicality.

Constant fear

Panorama also talks to a 13 year-old boy who was robbed by the gang at knifepoint.

He told the programme: "They said something about 'you think I won't use this knife on you? Give me your money'. And I said 'I ain't got none' and then after that, when they let me go, I ran and they chased me. Then when I got home I started crying."

When it was thought he had gone to the police the boy's family home was also targeted. His mother, Kathleen Ibrahim, told Panorama:

Damilola bled to death after an artery was severed by broken glass
"We've had bricks thrown through the windows. We've had some kind of substance poured through the letter box and set light. We have the doorbell ringing and the knocker going all hours of the night. They stand up on the walkway and shout down a lot of abuse and threats."

The 13 year-old says he is still afraid: "They might stab me or set my house on fire while I'm asleep or something."

Cycle of abuse

Local police commander Rod Jarman explains to Panorama that:

"This group of young people seem to have grown up with other people who commit crime and understand how the systems work and are extremely effective at undermining the systems and the investigation of crime, undermining witnesses' and victims' abilities to go to court.

'It's... a street savvy about what you do if you don't want to get caught, and what you do if you don't want to be prosecuted, and what you do if you don't want to be found guilty of an offence.'

He also describes the astonishing cycle of abuse and violence which seems to be typical of the worst juvenile gang offenders in the area:

"We did some research following back through the lives of our 12 worst offenders and... we found that 10 of the 12 had been abused by the male family father figure; they weren't actually fathers, but they were the father figure. 50% of them had been violently assaulted during that abuse... at a very young age."


Panorama reveals how Damilola may have been targeted by the gang very shortly after arriving in England from Nigeria. A neighbour on the estate, Julie Tobin, describes how she rescued him from a beating by the gang:

flowers at stairwell
Mourners left flowers at the spot on the stairwell where Damilola lay dying
"I was walking along from my friend's house when I saw Damilola running towards me.

"He was running and I mean running. There was five or six boys behind him.

"I grabbed him and put him behind me. I said like what is going on here. One of the boys turned around and said 'he's spat at me.'

"I said what were you going to do when you got him - beat him up or kill him or what?

"They said 'just give him a slap'.

"I said: ' No, no no'.

"So I said to Damilola: 'Apologise, say sorry for spitting and come back with me'.

"He was frightened you know. He thought he was going to get a good beating. Luckily enough, I came on the scene at the same time."

Horrific attack

I thought I was going to die

Mustafa Das
The programme also shows how, just the day after their release on bail during the Damilola murder investigation, some gang members attacked a Turkish-Cypriot print worker who was in London to attend a language college and learn English.

They smashed a road works barrier into his face, leaving him with dreadful scarring on his forehead. Mustafa Das tells Panorama:

"I thought I was going to die. I was thinking of my children - how they might have grown up without a father."

He lost his job because he could not return to Cyprus as a result of his injuries.

'A lost boy'

Damilola's grave
Damilola's death shocked the nation
Panorama has had extensive access to the family of Damilola Taylor during the last year and reporter Fergal Keane travelled to Nigeria with Damilola's father, Richard Taylor, to meet Damilola's friends and family. Fergal Keane describes it as "a search for a lost boy".

Interviewed in Lagos, Richard describes the last night he spent with Damilola, before the rest of the family moved to England, leaving Richard behind. It was the last time he saw his son alive.

"Damilola slept in our midst, between me and his mum, Gloria. He slept in the middle and I don't think I slept throughout the night because I was just thinking over how it was going to be like and I was just hugging, holding onto him, hugging him..."

Raced to hospital

Richard and Gloria Taylor
Richard and Gloria Taylor appealed for help on BBC Crimewatch
Damilola's mother, Gloria Taylor, describes events on the day that Damilola died:

"They told me that somebody was attacked on that road. I said 'That must be my son'. They said how can I confirm he's my son. I said 'Is he a schoolboy, a black boy wearing this kind of uniform...?'

"And they were all just looking at me."

The police raced her to hospital, where she saw Damilola's body.

"I ran to him and I held him. I put my head on his head because it looked as if he was sleeping. I didn't believe he was dead. There was blood coming out from his nose and his mouth and they pulled me away from him. I couldn't believe he's dead. Couldn't."

Gloria reveals a remarkable spirit of forgiveness when she tells Panorama how she prays daily for her son's killers. 'I pray for them... I pray for them every day. I pray for them... for God to touch them."

Warm memories

On the day her son died, Gloria had been to see the head of his school, Oliver Goldsmith Primary, to discuss minor misbehaviour by Damilola, and to raise Damilola's own complaints that some children at the school had been harassing him.

Mark Parsons
Mark Parsons recognised Damilola's potential
Mark Parsons, the school's head, interviewed exclusively by Fergal Keane, speaks warmly of the 10 year-old from Nigeria whose time at his school was cut tragically short:

"He was a very handsome child - tall, athletic, with a very noticeable and winning smile. The sort of child where, if you had a school full of children like that, you could really teach them."

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