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EDITIONS
Friday, 15 February, 2002, 15:45 GMT
Officer denies 'gifts for evidence'
Sergeant Carolyn Crooks leaves the Old Bailey
Sergeant Crooks denies bribing the witness with gifts
A police officer responsible for looking after the key witness in the Damilola Taylor trial has denied using the lure of a possible 50,000 reward and gifts to ensure she gave evidence.

Sergeant Carolyn Crooks admitted to the Old Bailey that she had bought the 14-year-old girl clothes and given her two mobile phones.

But she insisted: "I don't think anything done for her was unreasonable, nothing I wouldn't do for anyone else."

The girl is regarded by police as the only person to have seen the events leading up to the death of 10-year-old Damilola, who bled to death from a thigh wound caused by a broken beer bottle.

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

Welfare a priority

Sgt Crooks, who was accused on Thursday of manufacturing a witness, denied the clothes and phones were given to the girl because she had twice changed her mind about going to court.


I didn't dangle any reward in front of her

Sgt Carolyn Crooks
Defence barrister Baroness Mallalieu asked her: "Your job was to keep the wheels on the wagon until this trial - to keep the show on the road."

Sgt Crooks argued the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a crucial witness and her safety and welfare had to be a priority.

The teenager had lost clothes when she was moved several times and the phones were essential to ensure she could contact police if she was in danger, said Sgt Crooks.

When it was suggested to Sgt Crooks that she used the promise of a 50,000 reward to win the girl's cooperation she said: "I think you and I both know I didn't dangle any reward in front of her."

The officer agreed she had taken up complaints about things not working in the various places the girl and her mother stayed because the police were paying the bills.

She said she had also stepped in because the girl's mother was very ill at the time and under considerable strain.

'Dignity'

Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death from an injury caused by a broken bottle
Giving evidence for a second day, the officer confirmed she had been a family liaison officer dealing with Damilola's parents.

Baroness Mallalieu asked Sgt Crooks if she had been impressed with the "dignity and courage" of the Taylors.

Sgt Crooks replied she had also been impressed by the courage of the girl.

Damilola died on the run-down North Peckham estate in south London as he made his way home from a computer class on November 27, 2000.

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:

15 Feb 02 | England
13 Feb 02 | England
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