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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 14:10 GMT
Witness walks out of Damilola trial
CCTV footage of Damilola Taylor
Damilola on CCTV shortly before the alleged attack
A 14-year-old girl who is the key prosecution witness in the Damilola Taylor murder trial has walked out of the Old Bailey.

After just under half an hour of cross-examination on Tuesday, the girl refused to give any more evidence.

She said she was going home and was escorted from the courtroom by a police woman.

The trial was adjourned but after 90 minutes resumed, after the girl was persuaded to return to the witness box.


You know what? I'm going home

Witness

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.

The 14-year-old schoolgirl was only 20 minutes into her second day of testimony when she abruptly decided to leave, saying: "You know what? I'm going home."

Agitated

She had been growing visibly impatient in the witness box, tutting when defence barrister Courtenay Griffiths QC asked her to examine photographs.

The girl became increasingly agitated when asked what time she had left the North Peckham Estate, south London,

She had told the court that she had been going from school to her father's house via the estate when she saw four youths surround Damilola.

Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death from a thigh wound

The girl said that she did not know what time she had left the estate but she had had to be at her father's house by 1730GMT and the journey usually took 30 minutes.

But Mr Griffiths insisted the journey would have been quicker, and he asked the girl to trace the route she had taken on a map.

Pushing the map out of the way, she rose from her seat and left the court.

When she later retuned to the witness box the girl told the judge, Mr Justice Hooper, she had left because the street in which her father lived had been mentioned.


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

Mr Justice Hooper

But after a further 10 minutes of cross-examination, the girl again asked to go home, saying: "This is a bit too long for me to be in court."

Referring to Mr Griffiths, she told Mr Justice Hooper: "He has already upset me and he is upsetting me again - and he keeps doing it."

But the judge told her: "I appreciate that you find it unfair - but this is an important case, there is a number of defendants and they are entitled to ask you questions through their barristers.

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

The trial was also halted early on Monday when the girl asked to leave after testifying for two-and-a-half hours and arguing with Mr Griffiths, who had accused her of lying.


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

Witness
On Tuesday, she told the court she had been on her way to her father's home when she saw four youths surrounding a younger boy, Damilola.

She had hidden across the street behind a Fiat Punto car, assuming the 10-year-old was being robbed.

She had spoken to a Scottish man who was photographing the estate, but did not believe the youths had seen them.

'Feared reprisals'

The girl told the jury she had followed the four after they ran off up a set of stairs.

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.

"It might have all come back to me," she said.

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

The prosecution says she is the only witness to the 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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"The witness claims to have seen the attack on Damilola Taylor"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

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