Damilola may have died after accident, says QC

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Damilola Taylor may have accidentally killed himself while playing with a bottle or by falling on broken glass, the defence at the trial of two brothers accused of murdering him claimed yesterday.

Courtenay Griffiths QC, acting for one of the brothers, said CCTV footage showed that Damilola had had a heavy fall before he was found covered in blood. He said there were no reliable witnesses to the 10-year-old being attacked, and neither his client nor his brother were spotted in the area. There was no forensic evidence linking them to a killing, he said.

The two brothers, both aged 16, were among four youths who appeared at the Old Bailey at the start of the trial. The two other defendants, aged 15 and 17, were freed when the judge, Mr Justice Hooper, instructed the jury to acquit them.

The jury was told by Mr Griffiths yesterday that his client would not be giving evidence in his defence. Mr Justice Hooper directed the jury that it "may draw such inference as appear proper from his failure to do so".

Damilola's mother, Gloria, started laughing when counsel suggested that her son may have killed herself by accident.

Mr Griffiths told the court that when Damilola was found, about to collapse, in a stairwell his last words were: "I'm OK, I'm OK". He said that if the boy had been the victim of an attack, his last words were more likely to have been: "A group of boys just did me in."

Mr Griffiths said the words were more in tune with a child who had done something he should not, "playing with a bottle and ended up injuring himself. He was thinking: 'What's mum going to do?' He wanted to brush it under a carpet."

The QC said the prosecution's claim of a marble being pushed into Damilola's mouth to stop him screaming did not stand up to scrutiny. Forensic reports showed it was lodged under his tongue in the way a child "would suck a sweet".

"If it had been forced into his mouth, surely he would have spat it out ... There was no confrontation, it was a small boy playing with glass on his own."

The judge had told the jury to ignore the evidence of the Crown's key witness, a 14-year-old girl, because she was a serial liar. Other prosecution evidence – alleged confessions made at a young offenders' institution – was obtained by the police "fishing in murky waters", said Mr Griffiths.

He said he would produce two witnesses, a man and a woman, who saw a small black boy in Blakes Road, Peckham, – near where Damilola was found – picking up a broken bottle. The woman shouted at the boy, "who looked up and dropped the glass and ran along Blakes Road".

Counsel also told the jury that the brothers' mobile telephone records placed them away from Blakes Road. "Unless they were beamed across in Star Trek, they were not there," he said.

The two brothers deny murder, manslaughter and assault with intent to rob.

The case continues.