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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 20:25 GMT
Emotional memorial for Damilola
Tunde Taylor and family members at a memorial for Damilola
Tunde Taylor (centre) was supported by family members
The brother of Damilola Taylor has led tributes at a memorial service for the schoolboy, who died 10 days ago after being stabbed in south London.

Supported by his father, 21-year-old Tunde Taylor described his "intelligent and lovable" brother and expressed his anguish that he had not been able to protect Damilola from his killers.


Please forgive me for not being there for you

Tunde Taylor
More than 1,000 people attended the service at the Taylor family's local church in Peckham on what would have been the youngster's 11th birthday.

A mixture of churchgoers, residents and community leaders joined the family in singing Damilola's favourite hymns, Abide With Me and Rock of Ages.

Loud sobs came from the mourners as Tunde Taylor apologised to Damilola saying: "Apparently the only thing I did not offer him was protection from his killers on that fateful day.

"Damilola I know you are resting peacefully. Please forgive me for not being there for you. I am deeply sorry for not being there for you."

He said Damilola - or Dami as he was known to most of his friends - brought great joy and happiness to the Taylor family.

"He was a God-fearing, friendly, intelligent, loveable boy that any expectant mother would always like to have. He is part of my life that can never be erased."

Home Office minister Paul Boateng
Paul Boateng: Emotional plea to catch killers
Home Office Minister, Paul Boateng made a tearful plea for help in catching the killers.

Describing Damilola as a "bright, rising star", Mr Boateng was angry and emotional as he pleaded for the killers to be caught.

"They know what they saw. Speak. Tell what you saw, tell the police," he urged.

Apologies for absence were sent by the Prince of Wales, London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Home Secretary Jack Straw.

National debate

Damilola was found on a stairway in the North Peckham estate on 27 November. His death sparked a nationwide debate on youth crime and bullying.

Click here to see Damilola's likely route

Damilola had planned to repeat the Nigerian tradition of celebrating his birthday by sharing sweets with friends.

"There, you buy some chocolate, take it to school and share it around friends," Mr Taylor said on Wednesday.

Damilola's family arrive for the service
Damilola's family arrive for the service
"This is what he had done when he was alive."

He said Damilola had been told he would not have a party this year because the family had only recently moved to London, but he had insisted so his mother changed her mind.

In an emotive appeal for help, he said he had confidence in the "traditional British justice system".

"Somebody somewhere knows something and for some reason is sheltering the perpetrators of this crime," he said at a news conference.

Appeal fund

And he insisted that Damilola would still be alive had he remained in Nigeria, saying that British family values had been "allowed to go to the dogs".

Southwark Council has launched an appeal fund for a community centre in Damilola's memory - which has already received a 2m donation from Peckham carpet tycoon, Lord Harris.

About 80 police officers and civilian staff are investigating the death.

They have been contacted by hundreds of people and have interviewed more than 50 schoolchildren.

Anyone with information about Damilola's death should ring the incident room on 020 8247 4567 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Click here to return to text.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Cape
"Everyone was welcome, hundreds came"
Home Office minister Paul Boateng
"Tell what you saw ..."
Read the stories below to find our what happened to Damilola Taylor

The aftermath

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