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EDITIONS
Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Sadness and frustration of Peckham people
Flowers placed at the site where Damilola's body was found
Damilola was found dead in a stairwell on the estate

Residents on the estate in Peckham where Damilola Taylor died said they were "sad and frustrated" that no one has been brought to justice.

"I'm disgusted," said one local nursery school teacher who did not want to be named.

"Someone killed him and I'd like to see them and their families suffer for what they've done.


Whoever killed him was old enough to know what they're doing and they deserve to be brought to justice.

Peckham resident

"Whoever killed him was old enough to know what they're doing and they deserve to be brought to justice."

Another local resident, who wanted to be named only as Ann, said: "It's really, really awful.

"It's frightening, it seems kids today can do what they like and no-one can touch them."

Few residents were impressed by the defence's theory that Damilola's death was accidental.

Speaking just 200 yards from the spot where Damilola died, Stanley Brigden said: "Someone killed him.

"It wasn't necessarily murder and maybe police should not have brought the case, more like GBH if you like."

Problem youths

Most residents said the area was plagued with gangs of youths who were out of control and committed vast amounts of street crime.

"The jury should be told what these gangs are like," said Mr Brigden.

"I've never had a problem, but most people round here have. It's gangs on bikes mostly, youths about 16 or 17.

"They look out for people who are old or a bit vulnerable and wait for them to go down a side street.

"If the police don't find someone [to convict for Damilola's death], people will be too frightened to walk outside."

March through south London after Damilola's death
The Peckham community were outraged at the killing

Many residents had some criticism of the police, especially what they saw as a 50,000 reward "dangled in front" of the 14-year-old witness known as Bromley.

Mr Brigden said: "If you do that 90% of Peckham would have lied."

But most felt it was the law rather than the police which was at fault.


By the time the kids are 14 they're running riot and doing what they like

Kebab shop owner

"It's not catching them - it's convicting them," said a nearby kebab shop owner.

"When my till got robbed the police rounded up the gang in about 90 seconds.

"I identified two of them, but I couldn't say 100% which one it was that actually got the till, so they all got off."

Most residents felt young criminals were not being nipped in the bud early enough, so by the age of about 14 they had no fear of the law.

A bottle made with pieces which police say came from the bottle used in the killing
Police believe Damilola was killed with a broken bottle

"If kids do anything wrong teachers can't tell them off, the police can't do anything, you can't even tell your own children off anymore," said Ann.

"Nobody can touch them... they should bring in some sort of law."

Some felt more police on the streets could be an answer.

"Before this you would never see a copper down here," said Mr Brigden.

Struggling families

"All they want to do is drive past in their car. Even now you never see them at night," he said.

But there was also a feeling that social and housing policies, which ghettoised communities, could lie at the root of the street crime problem.

"There's a lot of poor people here - a lot of single parents, there's a lack of parental care and by the time the kids are 14 they're running riot and doing what they like," the kebab shop owner said.

Mr Brigden agreed: "They bring in a lot of struggling families here, immigrant families, single mothers and they're just left to themselves."

But whatever the causes of street crime in Peckham the local residents said the Damilola verdict would go no way to solving it.

"It's just sending out totally the wrong message," said Ann. "Children, gangsters, criminals, will just think they can do what they like and get away with it."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Lee Jasper, London Mayor's race relations advisor
"The collapse of this trial will have done nothing to rebuild confidence"
Find out more about the Damilola Taylor murder trial

Not guilty verdict

The fallout

BACKGROUND

PANORAMA SPECIAL

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT

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25 Apr 02 | England
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