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EDITIONS
Friday, 8 February, 2002, 17:24 GMT
Witness 'laughed about reward'
Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death in a stairwell in south London
The key witness in the Damilola Taylor murder trial has been shown on police tapes singing "I'm in the money" at the prospect of a 50,000 newspaper reward.

The 14-year-old girl, who was 12 at the time of the alleged attack, also appeared in person at the Old Bailey, and admitted lying to the police.

On the tapes the jury saw the girl break the tension of a nine-hour police interview by joking about money.

Pc Carolyn Crooks told her: "It's really important for Damilola's family. Remember why you are doing this."

The girl said: "To get some money. No, only joking."

'Phone a friend'

When officers left her in the interview room she was shown giggling and singing the song.

She hugged the teacher who was acting as her responsible adult, telling her she would give her "100 by the time you get out of here".

And at the end of the questioning, the girl asked to "phone a friend" when again asked to recall what one of the defendants was wearing.

She mimicked a competitor on the television quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, saying: "I'd like to phone ... [the teacher], then go 50:50 and then ask the audience."

I do not want the money anyway

Witness, 14

The girl returned to the court on Friday afternoon, after twice storming out earlier in the week following questions put by defence barrister Courtenay Griffiths QC.

Mr Griffiths resumed his cross-examination as the girl sat in the witness box with her arms folded.

Asked why she had mentioned the money, she said: "If I had, I was only joking because the money does not mean anything."

And the 14-year-old said she contacted the police before seeing any posters about the 50,000 reward offered by a national newspaper.

Contradictions

She added: "I do not want the money anyway. If they offered it to me now, I would not take it."

The girl agreed that she had lied in her early statements to police, and said she did not know the brothers as well as she had said she had.

BBC correspondent Andy Tighe, at the Old Bailey, said the girl has always freely admitted giving conflicting accounts to the police.

Stairwell on North Peckham Estate where Damilola bled to death
The scene of Damilola's death
But he said Mr Griffiths seemed to be trying to find contradictions between her final statement to police - which she insists was the truth - and the account of events she has given in the courtroom.

Mark Dennis, prosecuting, has told the jury it will have to decide how much the newspaper reward had motivated the girl to come forward.

The prosecution say the girl is the only witness to the attack on 10-year-old Damilola.

Two brothers aged 16, their 17-year-old friend and a 14-year-old youth deny murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.

Damilola bled to death from a thigh wound caused by a broken bottle on the North Peckham Estate, south London, in November 2000.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"Courtenay Griffiths QC said the girl had told a string of lies to get the money"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

BACKGROUND

PANORAMA SPECIAL

AUDIO VIDEO

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See also:

07 Feb 02 | England
06 Feb 02 | England
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