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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 18:18 GMT
Second Damilola youth walks free
Damilola Taylor
Damilola Taylor bled to death in a stairwell
A second defendant in the Damilola Taylor murder trial has walked free from court after the judge directed the jury to find him not guilty.

The 15-year-old boy, who cannot be named, was formally cleared of murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.

Damilola's father Richard Taylor, 56, put his head in his hands as the judge addressed the jury.

The 10-year-old's mother, Gloria, 50, remained stony-faced.

Four weeks ago a 17-year-old was cleared of murder after the judge, Mr Justice Hooper, decided the prosecution's key witness was lying.

Court artist's impression of Damilola's parents in court
Damilola's parents received the news silently
The trial continues of two 16-year-old brothers who deny murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.

Mr Hooper said of the 15-year-old: "As a matter of law I find the only proper verdict is one of not guilty.

"It is agreed by all counsel that I should not at this stage give you my reasons."

The boy showed no reaction as the not guilty verdicts were read out by the jury foreman.

Outside court, his solicitor Sean Longley said: "My client is deeply relieved that justice has been done and he is exonerated of involvement in this terrible and tragic incident."

He added that was all he could say in light of the ongoing trial.

'I done it'

Damilola 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.

The 15-year-old was arrested in June 2001, when he was 13, along with the 17-year-old and the two brothers.

Solicitor Andrew Longley speaking outside court
The boy's solicitor said his client was "deeply relieved"
He was charged after a female teenage witness named him as being with three other boys who allegedly surrounded and attacked Damilola.

Held in custody since then, he has always denied he was at the scene of the alleged attack, but lied to police about spending the day at his aunt's home.

During the trial the court heard from two youths from his secure unit, one of whom claimed the defendant had "confessed" to him while on remand.

The witness said the boy had told him: "I done it - I was there. It was a joke that went wrong."

But he added that a few days later the 15-year-old had denied any involvement.

John Ryder QC, defending, accused the witnesses of being confused, contradictory and attention-seeking.

They only told police their evidence once the trial had started.

Mr Hooper cleared the 17-year-old after finding the evidence of the female witness, known in court as 'Bromley', unreliable.

The trial of the two brothers will continue after the Easter break on Wednesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"The judge told the jury that as a matter of law the only proper verdict was not guilty"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

BACKGROUND

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See also:

11 Mar 02 | England
07 Mar 02 | England
06 Mar 02 | England
05 Mar 02 | England
27 Feb 02 | England
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