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2002: Brothers cleared of Damilola murder
Two teenage brothers have been cleared of the murder of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor.

The pair were also acquitted of manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.

The 16-year-olds, who cannot be named for legal reasons, burst into tears and hugged their mother with relief on hearing the verdict at the Old Bailey. The Taylor family showed no emotion.

Two other defendants, aged 14 and 17, had previously been cleared on the direction of the judge. All four youths had denied the charges.

They know he died at the hands of others
Taylor family solicitor Neil O'May

Damilola bled to death in the stairwell of a block of flats on the North Peckham estate, London, in November 2000. He had a deep wound to his leg, caused by a glass bottle.

Outside the court, the Taylor family's solicitor, Neil O'May, said the struggle of Damilola's parents to understand what went on continues.

"They know their son was murdered," he said. "They don't know who did it, or why it happened, but they know he died at the hands of others."

Asked if they would consider a civil action, he said: "They need time to come to terms with the verdict."

'The usual suspects'

The defence solicitor, Chris Hartnell, accused the police of "political opportunism" and said there had been no worthy evidence against the four.

"The police... simply felt they had to produce someone and produce someone they did - it was the usual suspects and people they at first thought of."

At a news conference in Scotland Yard, Detective Superintendent Trevor Shepherd maintained there had been enough evidence to prosecute.

However, he said, the police were hampered from the start by the lack of witnesses and a "hostile" gang culture among teenagers on the estate.

Just one girl did come forward, a 14-year-old known to the court only as "Bromley". Much of the case against the accused boys rested on her statements.

But the evidence she gave was thrown out of court after the judge said she was "an accomplished liar".

Police say the case remains open, although there were no fresh leads.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the 17-year-old defendant, who was cleared in February, said they were considering an action for malicious prosecution against the police.

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Richard Gloria and Tunde Taylor
Richard, Gloria and Tunde Taylor: showed no emotion at verdict

Trial highlights growth in youth violence

In Context
Richard and Gloria Taylor were awarded 11,000 compensation for Damilola's death - an amount which victim support groups condemned as "derisory".

The Taylors continue to run the Damilola Taylor Trust, set up in their son's memory, and are involved in efforts to improve the area around Peckham, where Damilola died.

Three other young men were cleared of murder after a second trial at the Old Bailey in 2006.

One was cleared on all charges but the jury failed to reach a verdict on a charge of manslaughter against the other two, brothers Danny and Rickie Preddie, aged 18 and 19.

After a 33-day re-trial the brothers were convicted and in October 2006 they were sentenced to eight years' youth custody for the manslaughter of Damilola.

Mr Taylor criticised the sentences as lenient and unlikely to act as a deterrent.

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