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EDITIONS
Monday, 11 February, 2002, 15:34 GMT
Damilola witness's 4,000 hotel bill
Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death in a stairwell in south London
The key witness in the Damilola Taylor murder trial and her mother ran up a 4,000 hotel bill in a week, the Old Bailey has heard.

The bill was paid for by police who had placed the then 13-year-old girl in a witness protection programme after she told them she had seen the alleged murder of the 10-year-old.

It included 60 telephone calls - one of which alone, cost 246.60 - items from the beauty and leisure store and 33 for room service snacks at 0445 on one day.

The girl, now 14, alleges she saw the murder of Damilola, who bled to death from a thigh wound caused by a broken bottle on the North Peckham Estate, south London, in November 2000.


You are taking people for a complete ride

Baroness Mallalieu, defence counsel

But at the court on Monday she was described as an attention seeker with emotional and behavioural problems who had once been excluded from school.

She was also forced to deny again that her motive for contacting police a month after the attack to identify the four boys accused was for a 50,000 newspaper reward.

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.

Baroness Mallalieu QC, defending one of them, accused the witness of taking advantage of the situation.

New trainers

She told the court: "You have been taking people for a complete ride haven't you?"

Asked to explain the high bills, she said: "I am stuck in a hotel and I am not allowed to go out into the world."

But it also transpired the girl and her mother had been asked to leave the hotel, the Selsden Park in Surrey, during the night after a fire in her room - something the girl blamed on a friend.

Lady Mallalieu told the Old Bailey jury the girl's time at school revealed a "pretty sorry story" of disruptive behaviour, violence in the classroom, attention seeking, telling lies and truancy.

The girl had been identified by her teachers as having "special needs" and needed extra attention because of her "emotional and behavioural difficulties", she said.

Earlier in the hearing, the witness denied police bought her a new pair of trainers.

Stormed out

She was seen wearing a "smart new pair" in police videos of her interviews and Lady Mallalieu asked her who had paid for them.

When she replied her mum, counsel asked: "Did she get the money from police?"

But the girl said her mother had got the money from her father.

The witness returned to the court on Friday afternoon, after twice storming out earlier last week.

She maintains she contacted the police before seeing any posters about a reward offered by a national newspaper.

The trial continues.

Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

BACKGROUND

PANORAMA SPECIAL

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT

CBBC NEWS
See also:

07 Feb 02 | England
06 Feb 02 | England
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