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Damilola murder charge teenagers remanded in custody

Three teenagers accused of the murder of 10-year-old schoolboy Damilola Taylor were remanded in custody when they appeared in the dock for the first time today.

Hassan Jihad, an unemployed 19-year-old of Consort Road, Peckham and two brothers aged 16 and 17, also from south London, were charged last night, more than four years after the Nigerian-born youngster was stabbed to death on a run-down estate in Peckham.

The three, who would have been aged between 12 and 14 at the time of the attack on November 27, 2000, appeared at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court in south London.

They were remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on January 14.

Four youths were acquitted of Damilola's murder when they stood trial at the Old Bailey in 2002 after a key witness - a 14-year-old girl known only as 'Bromley' - was labelled a fantasist by defence lawyers.

Damilola's parents, Richard and Gloria, have been kept fully informed by Scotland Yard about the progress of the investigation, some of which has focused on breaking down a wall of silence which the original police team met in Peckham.

Damilola was returning home from an after-school computer class when he was attacked. He bled to death in a stairwell after being stabbed in the thigh with a jagged beer bottle.

Today's court hearing took place less than a mile from where Damilola was attacked.

The three defendants, all of them black, sat in silence behind a screen of three inch thick glass in a fully enclosed dock.

They were surrounded by nine plain clothes detectives and court staff.

At the start of the hearing they were led into the dock separately.

The brothers sat on a bench with a member of court staff between them.

Both stared at the floor for most of the hearing, rarely looking up.

The older brother was wearing a white hooded top with the hood down and blue trousers.

The younger brother, who sat to his right, wore a bulky black jacket and blue jogging trousers.

Jihad sat behind them on another bench between two plain clothes detectives. Wearing spectacles, he was dressed in a yellow t-shirt and blue tracksuit trousers.

The defendants spoke only when they were asked by district judge Alan Baldwin to give their dates of birth.

Prosecutor Robert Jansen gave very brief details of the case. Lawyers for the defendants made no representations and there were no applications for bail.

The judge said he was sending the case straight to the Old Bailey.

He told the defendants: "You will appear there on January 14 in the morning. Until then you will remain in custody."

Damilola's parents were not in court for the hearing.