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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 16:48 GMT
Damilola detective denies 'race politics'
Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death in a stairwell in south London
The detective who headed the Damilola Taylor murder investigation has denied the "politics of race" influenced his decision-making.

But Detective Superintendent Trevor Shepherd admitted to the Old Bailey that dropping the case against the suspects would have "damaged the reputation" of the police.

Four youths, brothers aged 16, their 17-year-old friend and a 15-year-old youth deny murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.


You would never have dreamt of interviewing a suspect in this way would you?

Baroness Mallalieu
Defending
Nigerian-born Damilola, 10, died on November 27, 2000, from a thigh injury caused by a broken beer bottle on the North Peckham Estate, south London, where he lived.

Defence barrister Courtenay Griffith told Mr Shepherd: "Politics played a major part - the politics of race.

"That was why you were prepared to overlook so much."

The detective denied the suggestion but was also questioned on the nature of the interviews conducted with the key prosecution witness, a 14-year-old girl.

Police log

It was inferred interviews had been contrary to Home Office guidelines and had made too much mention of financial rewards that were perhaps going to be earned.

Baroness Mallalieu, defending another of the boys, said: "You would never have dreamt of interviewing a suspect in this way would you?"

Mr Shepherd replied: "Probably not."


The rule book had been thrown out of the window and you were on dodgy ground

Courtenay Griffiths QC
Defending
Mr Griffiths referred Mr Shepherd to his police logs where he gave his reasons for referring the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) before the four defendants were charged.

It read: "The public profile of the investigation is such that a discontinuance would severely damage the reputation of the Metropolitan Police and the police in general."

The officer said he wanted a "fresh pair of eyes" to look at the evidence.

But Mr Griffiths continued: "The reason was you knew that the rule book had been thrown out of the window and you were on dodgy ground.

"You were passing the hot potato to the CPS so they would make the decision."

He replied: "No, that was not the case."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"He was accused of throwing the rulebook out"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

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See also:

15 Feb 02 | England
13 Feb 02 | England
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