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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Damilola died 'playing with bottle'
Damilola Taylor
Damilola Taylor bled to death in a stairwell
Damilola Taylor's fatal injuries were caused by a freak accident, not a stabbing, a court has heard.

The trial of two 16-year-old brothers for the murder of the schoolboy began hearing defence argument at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

The jury was told Damilola injured himself accidentally while playing with a broken bottle.

And defence counsel also claimed mobile phone evidence proves the defendants were too far away to have carried out the alleged attack.

If they were using those phones at 16.47, they could not have committed these offences

Courtenay Griffiths QC

The 10-year-old bled to death in November 2000 in the stairwell of a block of flats on the North Peckham estate in London.

Outlining the defence case, barristers representing the brothers questioned whether Damilola had been deliberately stabbed at all.

Courtenay Griffiths QC, representing one of the defendants, said there was no sign of any other attack apart from a stab wound to the leg.

He said there was no forensic evidence to suggest a deliberate stabbing, with no fingerprints found on the bottle.

'Hard evidence'

And a mobile phone call made by one of the brothers placed him in Bermondsey at the time Damilola was discovered, he said.

Mr Griffiths said: "You can deduce he was with his brother at the time.

"The bottom line is this: if they were using those phones at 16.47, they could not have committed these offences and the only verdict you can return is not guilty.

"That is hard, cold evidence."

The barrister said when a builder found Damilola, the boy just said he was okay, which was inconsistent with an attack.
Stairwell in Peckham
The scene of Damilola's death

Mr Griffiths suggested Damilola was playing down the incident because he did not want his parents to know he had been playing with a broken bottle.

And he questioned why a marble found in the schoolboy's mouth, allegedly forced in as part of the attack, had not been spat out.

He condemned the prosecution evidence, including alleged confessions from the brothers, as unreliable, "desperate" and "tainted with falsehood".

'Unreliable'

The defendants deny murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.

One of the boys has chosen not to give evidence, Mr Griffiths said.

Court proceedings were halted last week when the judge directed their 15-year-old co-defendant be cleared.

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

The witness in question, a 15-year-old girl codenamed Bromley, claimed to have seen the alleged attack.

But Mr Griffiths said the lynchpin in the prosecution case had been "comprehensively destroyed".

The trial continues.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"Barristers questioned whether Damilola had been deliberately stabbed at all"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

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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
28 Mar 02 | England
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