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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 18:16 GMT
Damilola witness 'an attention seeker'
Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death in a stairwell in south London
The key witness in the Damilola Taylor murder trial has been branded an attention-seeker with emotional and behavioural problems.

The girl claims she saw the murder of ten-year-old Damilola, who bled to death from a thigh wound caused by a broken bottle in November 2000.

But the Old Bailey trial has heard claims she reported the alleged crime to cash in on a 50,000 reward for information.

Then, when under a police witness protection scheme, she ran up a 4,000 hotel bill.

The girl is the main witness in the prosecution's case against two brothers aged 16, their 17-year-old friend and a 14-year-old youth who deny murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob Damilola.


You are taking people for a complete ride

Baroness Mallalieu, defence counsel

The court heard the witness and her mother spent 4,000 in a week at a Surrey hotel, paid for by police who had placed the then 13-year-old in a witness protection programme after reporting she had seen the murder.

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.

Baroness Mallalieu QC, defending one of the accused, said the witness had taken advantage of the situation.

Truancy

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

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

The court also heard the girl and her mother had been asked to leave the Selsden Park Hotel during the night after a fire in her room - something the girl blamed on a friend.

The court went on to hear of the girl's school record which Lady Mallalieu described as 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.

New trainers

Earlier in the hearing, the witness denied police bought her a new pair of trainers which she was seen wearing in police videos of her interviews.

She said her father had in fact paid for them.

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

She maintains she contacted the police before seeing any posters about the reward.

The witness twice stormed out of earlier hearings.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

BACKGROUND

PANORAMA SPECIAL

AUDIO VIDEO

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CBBC NEWS
See also:

07 Feb 02 | England
06 Feb 02 | England
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