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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 20:49 GMT
Damilola witness 'living in fear'
Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death in a stairwell in south London
The key witness in the Damilola Taylor trial has told the Old Bailey she has lived in fear since "grassing" on the gang accused of murdering him.

The 14-year-old girl said she had not been able to return home for a year and feels unsafe walking in the street because she named the boys.

But the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she did not regret getting involved, adding: "I have never said anything to the police but this time I thought it was right to say something."


I don't care if I get beaten up because I am doing the right thing

Key witness
Earlier the girl, described by prosecutors as the only person to see the events leading to 10-year-old Damilola's death, denied being "coached" in what to say by police.

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 in November 2000.

Stabbed

The schoolboy died from a thigh wound caused by a broken bottle on a run-down estate in Peckham, south London.

The girl, who was 12 when Damilola died, said the investigation and her court appearance had an enormous impact on her life.

Scene of Damilola's death
The 10-year-old was allegedly killed on his way home from school
She said she had been living in a series of hotels, apartments and caravans since talking to the police, as part of the police witness protection scheme.

She told the jury she had not been allowed to collect many of her belongings from her home.

She said: "In my estate where I grew up, not everyone is too keen on grasses.

"I have not got any outside life any more. I can't really walk down the street and feel safe. I stay in my house.

"Sometimes I go to my friends but I don't go out of my area. If they want to go out of the area, I won't go. I just go home."

She said some friends had stuck by her, but others warned she could be beaten up.

"I don't care if I get beaten up because I am doing the right thing. I was there and I am not lying about this," she told the jury.

Conversations

Earlier the girl denied accusations that she left out "awkward" details from her statement.

Defence counsel George Carter-Stephenson QC asked whether she had conversations with WPC Carolyn Crooks during breaks in interviews.

"No, I have never been directed what to say," she said.

The girl said she could not remember what happened during two two-minute breaks in video recordings and had not known the cameras were not recording.

'Awkward evidence'

Mr Carter-Stephenson asked the girl about changes she made in her story during the course of a number of interviews.

She rejected his suggestion that she was prepared to do what the officers wanted and "leave out pieces of evidence that might make the case awkward for the police".

On Monday the court heard the girl deny claims she was motivated purely by a 50,000 newspaper reward when she came forward with information a month after the killing.

The case continues.

Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

BACKGROUND

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