Bloodstain 'linking boys to Damilola was ignored'

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Vital evidence allegedly linking two boys to the murder of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor was missed during the initial police investigation, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.

More than five years after Damilola's death in the stairwell of an estate in Peckham, south-east London, the new evidence - a bloodstain on a 12-year-old's trainer and another on his brother's sweatshirt - was put to the jury at the opening of a second trial into his killing.

The two brothers, now aged 17 and 18 - neither of whom can be named - and Hassan Jihad, 20, deny murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob. Damilola's parents, Richard and Gloria Taylor, heard once again how their son had stopped off after school at Peckham Library before being pounced upon.

Victor Temple QC, for the prosecution, described how Damilola was stabbed with a broken bottle in his left thigh, and how he stumbled on until he collapsed in the stairwell. The jury was told that the four who initially stood trial were acquitted. It was, Mr Temple said, the three now in the dock who had committed the crime. "[After] the acquittals... the evidence was re-examined. Crucially, detailed forensic evidence concerning blood and fibres was recovered from clothing and footwear attributable to these three defendants." Mr Temple continued: "It is no exaggeration to describe the attack on Damilola Taylor as callous and brutal.

"None of the three chose to come to his aid or called an ambulance despite it being obvious that Damilola, whose bleeding was profuse, was in need of medical attention. Instead, all three fled the scene.''

The three were all arrested and interviewed by police as part of the initial investigation, but released without charge. They were rearrested on 5 January 2005.

Most pertinently, Mr Temple said that evidence linking them to the death was ignored. Referring to the bloodstain on the younger brother's trainer, he told the jury: "This bloodstain was only discovered during the second investigation. It was missed by the laboratory staff who originally examined the trainer. "It was not just a bloodstain and no more. Within the blood drop was a damaged and apparently bloodstained dark blue synthetic fibre. The fibre was microscopically indistinguishable from the fibres used in the construction of Damilola Taylor's trousers.'' The blood on the other brother's sweatshirt also remained undiscovered until the second investigation, he added.

Mr Temple described fibres found on the clothes of all three defendants, which he said linked them to Damilola's death. Furthermore, Mr Temple said, both brothers had confessed or implicated themselves.

"The Crown is not in a position to call any eye-witnesses to the details of the attack on Damilola Taylor," Mr Temple said, "or indeed to identify one or more of these defendants as being in Blakes Road immediately before the attack. Only Damilola Taylor and these three defendants are privy to such matters. However, there is powerful circumstantial evidence to draw upon - which permits a clear picture to emerge."

The trial is expected to last for up to three months.