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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 17:30 GMT
Marble used 'to shut Damilola up'
Damilola Taylor
The defendants claim they did not kill Damilola
One of the youths on trial for the murder of Damilola Taylor admitted a marble was put in the 10-year-old's mouth to stop his cries, a witness has told the Old Bailey.

The evidence came from a 17-year-old who had been an inmate at Feltham young offenders institution at the same time as two 16-year-old brothers, who are accused of Damilola's murder.

He told the court that one of the brothers had confessed he was in a gang who attacked the school boy and had seen another member of the group stab him in the leg with a knife.

The 16-year-old is then alleged to have said Damilola was "jumping up and down in such pain" that to shut him up they put a marble in his mouth.

A glass marble was found lodged in Damilola's mouth during a post mortem examination but the fact was only made public in June last year when a newspaper ran the story.

In cross-examination, the 17-year-old - who has convictions for assault and criminal damage - denied reading about the detail in the press before making his statement to police.

'Laughing'

The brothers and a 15-year-old boy deny charges of murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob in November 2000.

A fourth boy was acquitted last week after the judge ruled the evidence of a key prosecution witness - a 14-year old girl - was unreliable.

Earlier on Tuesday, the witness said one of the brothers had told him Damilola had been murdered "for a laugh... something to do".

He said he had asked the brothers why they were in Feltham young offenders institution.

He said: "They said murder. I asked them who they had murdered and they said some kid in Peckham.

"I asked what they had actually done to murder the little kid and they admitted to stabbing him in the leg, leaving him there to bleed."

Other 'confessions'

The 17-year-old witness claimed the confession was made in an induction room when he and the brothers first arrived at Feltham.

As well as admitting the killing to him they had also confessed to other inmates at Feltham on as many as 10 other occasions, he said.

Cross-examined by Courtenay Griffiths QC, he said: "They had no shame and didn't stop laughing."

The witness said he never spoke to them again although he saw them regularly, including in maths and English classes where he said he overheard them admitting the killing to others.

Statement 'lie'

Mr Griffiths insisted there was no record of the witness sharing any maths and English classes with either of the brothers at Feltham.

In his original statement to police on 21 June last year the witness said of his encounter with the brothers: "I asked one of the brothers what they were in for and he said murder ... he said he didn't know the kid he had killed but he knew that he had stabbed him in one leg and his brother stabbed him in the other."

But the witness said he was told only one of the brothers had stabbed Damilola.

Asked by the judge Mr Justice Hooper if his original story to police was a lie he replied: "Yes."

Various offences

He said he must have assumed that they were both on remand at Feltham for the murder.

The witness made his statement to police at Portland Young Offenders' Institution where he was serving 12 months for robbery and four months for assault and criminal damage.

When he claimed to have met the brothers he was serving four months in Feltham for two offences of causing actual bodily harm and one of battery.

The witness said police had told him they could move him to another prison and said "there could be money in it" but he was "happy just to give evidence".

The trial continues.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"This seventeen-year-old has a history of violence"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

BACKGROUND

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See also:

04 Mar 02 | England
01 Mar 02 | England
27 Feb 02 | England
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