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EDITIONS
Friday, 12 April, 2002, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Damilola police 'had own agenda'
Damilola Taylor
Damilola's death was an accident, the defence claims
Police investigating the death of Damilola Taylor were "more concerned with trying to save their own soiled reputation" than telling the truth, the Old Bailey has heard.

Courtenay Griffiths, QC, defending one of two 16-year-old brothers accused of killing the schoolboy, said the officers "had their own agenda" when dealing with witnesses.


It occurred in the dark heart of Peckham, that melting pot of poverty and pain

Courtenay Griffiths, QC
He accused them of ignoring proof the 10-year-old died accidentally after falling on jagged glass, and claimed they "manufactured evidence" to support a murder theory.

The prosecution claims the brothers were part of a gang who killed Damilola by stabbing him in the leg with a broken bottle in Peckham, south London, in November 2000.

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

'Poverty and pain'

Referring to his client's reported confession while in custody, Mr Griffiths said: "Are these in fact confessions or are they misplaced bravado, 'bigging up'?"

He told the jury of seven men and four women that Damilola's parents, Richard and Gloria, had been forced "day after day to listen to a litany of lies and fairy tales".

Mr Griffiths said officers exploited Peckham's bad reputation to enforce the idea that if a schoolboy was found bleeding to death a crime must have taken place.

He said: "It occurred in the dark heart of Peckham, that melting pot of poverty and pain.

"This is Peckham after all. If something like this occurs, it cannot be an accident."

Mobile phones

Mr Griffiths also accused police of cynically exploiting a young girl witness, whose evidence was thrown out by the judge.

He referred to calls made in Bermondsey, south London, when Damilola was dying, from two mobile phones associated with the brothers.

If they made the calls, they could not be guilty, because they were too far away he said.

Earlier, Mark Dennis, prosecuting, closed his speech by claiming the brothers had not given evidence because they did not want to be cross-examined about the mobiles.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

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