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The BBC's Stephen Cape
"There is still not enough evidence to charge anyone"
 real 56k

Friday, 22 December, 2000, 20:43 GMT
Damilola police seek mystery witness
Damilola Taylor
Damilola died from stab wounds on 27 November
Police investigating the killing of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor are desperate to trace a mystery witness who is believed to have seen the boy arguing with youths minutes before his death.

The witness, a visitor to Peckham who anonymously contacted a Scottish Crimestoppers office, saw a boy believed to be Damilola arguing with three black youths by the leisure centre near Peckham Library around 1630GMT on 27 November.

The police can and will protect you if you are worried about providing information

Det Supt Dillnutt
Two youths were said to be wearing dark clothing and a third, who was beckoned over to the group, was wearing a red hooded top with the hood up.

Detective Superintendent David Dillnutt also revealed that there had been another sighting of Damilola, walking along past a health centre in Commercial Way, Peckham, towards Pentridge Street.

He told a press conference on Friday that despite 20 knives being handed in or recovered since the killing, "no significant information has been forthcoming in relation to those weapons".

Det Supt Dillnutt said that people should not be scared to come forward: "The police can and will protect you if you are worried about providing information".

Althea Smith, of the Southwark police and community consultative group, also urged people to help.

She said: "Just imagine, three days to go to Christmas. How would you feel as a parent to feel you have lost someone who is so close to you?"

Political row

Det Supt Dillnutt denied that the row sparked by William Hague's controversial comments on Damilola's death had affected the inquiry.

The Conservative Party leader maintains that low police numbers were a factor in Damilola's death, a statement condemned by the boy's parents.

A 15-year-old boy arrested in connection with the south London schoolboy's death was released on bail on Thursday evening.

David Dillnutt
Det Supt David Dillnutt is in charge of the inquiry
The teenager, who was arrested in Camberwell, south London, was bailed until January. He was the 13th person to be questioned about the boy's death.

Nigerian-born Damilola bled to death in a stairwell on a Peckham estate, after being stabbed in the leg on his way home from an after-school computer class.

On 14 December, 11 boys aged between 12 and 16 were arrested in London in a series of dawn raids involving about 200 officers. Ten were later released on bail.

Another, aged 14, was released with no further action to be taken.

A 39-year-old woman was also arrested and questioned over Damilola's death.

Massive investigation

The high-profile case has seen one of the biggest police operations in London since the Jill Dando investigation.

William Hague's controversial comments also led to the case becoming the focus of a row over policing between his party and the government.

The case received more attention this week when it emerged that a police officer who worked as a schools liaison officer in the Peckham area was about to lose his role shortly before Damilola was killed.

Pc Ian Wright worked to improve relations between police and pupils in Peckham and Camberwell, and head teachers were furious when the Metropolitan Police announced last month that his post would be withdrawn.

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The aftermath

See also:

20 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hague accused of race 'opportunism'
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