How the brutal killing of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor shocked the nation

The killing of an innocent 10-year-old boy in south London shocked the UK and remains to this day, a painful memory.

Nearly two decades after his tragic killing, Damilola Taylor’s untimely death at the hands of child killers has been revisited in a new documentary.

Damilola was filmed on CCTV making his way home from a library in south east London.

Paul Valley wrote in the Independent in 2006: “It showed a happy smiling schoolboy hopping and skipping, with the insuppressible exuberance of childhood, across the flagstones of a shopping precinct. It was Peckham but it could have been anywhere in Britain.”

But just 15 minutes after he was filmed, he would be bleeding to death in a stairwell.

His family had moved to London from Nigeria in Summer 2000, and in November he was stabbed in the leg by two brothers.

Danny and Ricky Preddie, 12 and 13 at the time, were persistent young offenders when they attacked the innocent lad with a broken glass.

Damilola’s story rocked the UK. For many it was harrowing due to his age, and as his family had only just arrived in Britain in search of a better life.

Speaking to the BBC in 2010, Peckham resident Emanuel Candengue, 22, said the killing of an African boy on the streets of London was hard to take.

He said it was huge news because of his age, and his childhood ambitions to be a doctor.

He told the broadcaster: “He was only here for a few months but all his dreams were destroyed at such a young age."

And then there were the gruelling years it took to convict his killers.

It took police six years and three trials to bring the to justice.

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Their conviction for manslaughter was dubbed a highlight for Nick Ephgrave, a Lambeth Police officer whose career spans 30-years.

Damilola's age was important, he says, but there was something about the boy's character and appearance that appealed to people, summed up by his photo circulated to the press.

"That photo there was the second thing," Ch Supt Ephgrave told the BBC.

"He's an engaging person, wearing school uniform. He's smiling, has got an air of confidence about him and he looks positive about the future."

Damilola was a schoolboy struck down on the streets of the city where he was meant to live, learn and thrive.

His family had to put themselves through three trials before the killers were convicted.

His murder has been revisited by his neighbour Yinka Bokinni, a radio presenter who has fronted a new documentary for Channel 4.

The Boy Next Door explores the heinous crime twenty years after it first shattered the country.

Writing for the Guardian, Yinka said: “Hopefully, the programme shows that, for the short time he was with us, Dami was loved by our community. He was a vibrant kid with a life to live – and he was our friend.”

Damilola: The Boy Next Door airs tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm

  • London
  • Knife Crime
  • Channel 4

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