Damilola: DNA breakthrough leads to re-arrest of three suspects

Detectives hunting the killer of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor are expected to charge three people today in connection with his death.

All three suspects were arrested four years ago but never charged. Their re-arrest is understood to follow a forensic breakthrough by detectives who have re-examined every piece of evidence from the original case using new DNA techniques.

The three suspects were among a group of more than a dozen local youths held by police in the months after Damilola was stabbed to death with a jagged bottle on a run-down estate in Peckham, south London, in November 2000.

Four other other teenagers, including two brothers, were charged with the murder and eventually stood trial at the Old Bailey in 2002.

They were acquitted after the evidence of a 14-year-old girl, who claimed she saw the killing, was thrown out of court after it was ruled unreliable.

It was claimed the girl had only said she had witnessed the murder because of a £50,000 reward offered by a newspaper.

Damilola's parents, Richard and Gloria, were told about yesterday's arrests in advance.

They had been planned for some time and were described as "highly significant". A police source said: "These are certainly not speculative arrests."

The three suspects were taken to separate police stations in London for questioning.

Detectives working on the case, now headed by Detective Chief Inspector Nick Ephgrave, will have until tomorrow to charge the three, or seek more time for questioning.

Their investigation has included raids at addresses close to the murder scene last October. They have also concentrated on finding new witnesses and breaking down the wall of silence that the original inquiry team met in Peckham.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bill Griffiths of Scotland Yard's Specialist Crime Directorate said: "These significant developments are the result of a determined effort to establish the truth of what happened on that day.

"I pay tribute to Mr and Mrs Taylor for their patience, understanding and support throughout the course of this investigation."

Damilola, who was born in Nigeria, was on his way home from a library in the late afternoon when he was attacked in what police believe was an attempted robbery. He was stabbed in the thigh and then bled to death in a nearby stairwell. His family had come to Britain from Nigeria only a few months earlier, seeking medical care for Damilola's sister.

Yesterday's arrests came after the outgoing Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir John Stevens said that the failure to catch Damilola's killers was his biggest regret and vowed that the hunt would continue.

The trial of the four youths originally charged - who were aged between between 15 and 17 by the time they were acquitted - ended in a shambles more than two years ago. Two were acquitted on the directions of the judge and the two brothers were cleared by a jury at the end of a three-month trial which, together with the police investigation, was estimated to have cost £10m. Mr Taylor, who sat through the whole trial, has refused to give up hope that the police would get it right.

Speaking on the fourth anniversary of Damilola's death last November he said: "We still believe in the judicial system of this country.

"I actually believe that the police will not rest until justice is obtained for those who murdered my son. We are hopeful that the investigation is still on and one day someone will be brought to justice. It has been very difficult. We find it difficult to cope. We still remember him every day, every night."

Sir John said: "I think what people need to understand is that we in the police never give up and these inquiries are never closed."

Mr Taylor praised the police investigation last night. He said: "The family are very encouraged with the news of today's arrests and the extent of the police investigation. All that we have ever wanted is justice for our son. The family have been kept fully informed by the police and we are pleased with the way things are going."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace