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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 15:11 GMT
Witness testimony strongly attacked
Damilola Taylor
Damilola bled to death in a stairwell in south London
The testimony of the 14-year-old girl at the heart of the prosecution case in the Damilola Taylor trial has been under siege since her first day in court.

Lying, attention seeking, and emotional and behavioural problems were among the accusations levelled at the girl.

Codenamed Bromley during interviews, it was repeatedly suggested by defence barristers that she was only interested in the reward offered by a national newspaper.


You have been taking people for a complete ride haven't you?

Lady Mallalieu
Defence
The girl said she saw the murder of Damilola, who the prosecution allege was stabbed to death on a south London estate in November 2000.

But the defence painted a picture of a girl who laughed and joked her way through police interviews.

Interview tapes showed Bromley singing "I'm in the money" and promising a teacher sitting in on the interview she would be given "100 by the time you get out of here".

After one question, the girl mimicked a competitor on television quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, saying: "I'd like to phone, then go 50:50 and then ask the audience".

'Story changed'

The Old Bailey jury heard the girl say "gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme", and saw her make a grasping motion with her hands.

A police officer told the court that Bromley had had repeated interviews because she changed her story repeatedly.

But officers denied they had led the witness, although it was suggested she was given an already marked map to point out the spot where she witnessed the alleged killing.


He has already upset me and he is upsetting me again - and he keeps doing it

Bromley on defence barrister Courtenay Griffiths QC
The girl admitted she had lied in her first two interviews.

Cross-examination by the defence twice led to her walking out of court.

She objected to the way defence barrister Courtenay Griffiths QC asked her to examine photographs, and lines of questioning about times.

Hotel bill

Referring to Mr Griffiths, she told Mr Justice Hooper: "He has already upset me and he is upsetting me again - and he keeps doing it."

She had earlier objected to being accused of lying by Mr Griffiths.

Defence counsel also seized on the 4,000 hotel bill run up by the girl and her mother in one week under a police witness protection scheme.

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.

School record

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

Jury members then heard defence accusations about the girl's school record.

Lady Mallalieu QC, for the defence, described it as a "pretty sorry story" of disruptive behaviour, violence in the classroom, attention seeking, telling lies and truancy.

The girl had been identified by teachers as having "special needs" and "emotional and behavioural difficulties", she said.

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

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:

20 Feb 02 | England
15 Feb 02 | England
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