Two found guilty of manslaughter of Damilola Taylor

Two found guilty of manslaughter of Damilola Taylor

Two young men were today (9.8.06) found guilty of manslaughter of 10 y/o Damilola Taylor in Peckham in November 2000.

They are Ricky and Danny Preddie, aged 19 and 18, brothers who lived in Peckham in 2000. They pleaded not guilty to manslaughter when the trial began on 22 June, 2006 at the CCC.

Sentencing was adjourned and they were remanded in custody.

On behalf of the MPS, Commander Dave Johnston, Head of Homicide and Serious Crime at the Specialist Crimes Directorate, said:

“Today justice has finally been reached for Damilola. His violent death in 2000 sent shockwaves throughout London and beyond. For his family it was a very personal tragedy played out in a very public arena and I would like to acknowledge the courage and dignity with which Gloria and Richard Taylor have supported us throughout the police investigations.”

It follows a six-year investigation by the MPS Specialist Crimes Directorate that began after Damilola was found dying on a stairwell off Blakes Road, Peckham, in the early evening of Monday 27 November.

In July 2001, four young men were arrested and charged with his murder. Their trial ended in April 2002 when all four were acquitted. The investigation resumed within days, under the same team, now led by Det Supt Nick Ephgrave. He began a review of the considerable quantity of material collected during the previous two years.

They began at Message One. A good way into the process they identified a small number of suspects. They had been arrested in December 2000, along with several others. A re-examination of clothing taken from them at the time of their arrest in 2000 was commissioned with the Forensic Alliance (FaL), an Oxford based company not associated with the initial examination and now known as LGC Forensics.

A different company was chosen in order to have a fresh pair of eyes, and not because there were any reasons to doubt the original results from the Forensic Science Service (FSS). By March 2004, FaL reported that Damilola’s blood had been found on a trainer and a sweatshirt belonging to two suspects. Also, fibres indistinguishable from those in the trousers and school jumper worn by Damilola on the day he died were found on the clothing of both those suspects.

After further enquiries, and following close consultation with the CPS, three suspects were arrested and charged on 5 January 2005, with the murder or manslaughter of Damilola and assault with intent to rob

All three pleaded not guilty when their trial began at the CCC on 23 January 2006. One was acquitted of all charges on 3 April. The following day, the jury found the Preddie brothers not guilty of murder and assault with intent to rob; they were unable to reach a verdict on manslaughter.

During the latest trial beginning on 22 June, the court has heard from scientists who reconstructed the glass bottle used to attack Damilola and from the scientists who found the blood traces on Danny Preddie’s trainer and Ricky Preddie’s sweatshirt.

In addition, there has been detailed evidence explaining how scientists are able to describe fibres discovered as ‘indistinguishable from’ fibres in Damilola’s clothing.

The court has heard witnesses who were teenagers in 2000 describe what both Preddie brothers told them after the event, that appeared to incriminate them.

The Prosecution also brought evidence of bad character, that is examples of previous offences showing a propensity on the part of the defendants to commit violence.

Commander Johnston said:
“Despite the setbacks of the trial ending in April this year, we now have a result that upholds the key scientific evidence – evidence that directed the course of the investigation.

“Throughout the six years since their son died, the MPS has been supported by Damilola’s parents. Gloria and Richard Taylor impress all they meet with their dignity and fortitude. Their patience has been rewarded and for their sake, we are glad.

Cmdr Johnston said:
“This has been a long journey for all those involved in the quest for justice and undoubtedly lessons have been learnt. We are of course concerned that the new forensic evidence heard in this trial was not available for the first investigation and sympathies with the anguish that this may have caused to those afected.

“Now the trial process has concluded it is important that the answers are found as to how this forensic evidence was missed so that the public and the courts can maintain their confidence in forensic science.”

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