Teenagers deny they are guilty of murdering Damilola

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The Independent Online

Two boys aged 15 denied in court yesterday that they had murdered the 10-year-old Nigerian Damilola Taylor on a housing estate in Peckham that is to be demolished.

Two other boys, aged 14 and 16, who are also accused of murdering Damilola in south-east London last November, appeared at the Old Bailey, but their cases were adjourned to a later date.

Damilola was stabbed in the leg as he walked home from an after-school club at the local library, and managed to crawl to the stairwell of a block of flats, where he died.

The 15-year-olds, also from Peckham, spoke only to answer to their names and plead not guilty to the murder.

Appearing at the Old Bailey for the first time, the four youths, whose cannot be identified because they are under 18, were each accompanied by a member of their family and a social worker. After the brief hearing, they were remanded into local authority care.

The court was told that the estate where the killing took place is scheduled to be demolished in October – as part of a regeneration programme.

Brian Altman, for the prosecution, told a pre-trial hearing he was concerned that the site would be knocked down before the trial, and that it might contain information useful for the jury. He also disclosed that the prosecution was preparing to make "some graphic 3D form of video that can reproduce the area in a virtual-reality sense."

He said appeals had been made to the local authority to postpone the demolition until after the trial, which is to start on 15 January and is expected to last for three months. "The site is not easy to understand, particularly the stairwell, without having visited it," Mr Altman added.

The boys were arrested in June – seven months after the schoolboy was killed as he made his way home from his the Peckham library where he had been attending his school's computer club.

Special arrangements were made for their appearance at the Old Bailey under recommendations to ensure children and young people do not feel intimidated, humiliated or distressed in court.

Court 8 was arranged so that each teenager sat with a member of his family along tables under the dock and behind their lawyers. None of the barristers wore wigs or gowns during the proceedings.

Kerim Fuad represented the 14-year-old, who comes from Peckham and is of mixed race, Simon Gedge represented the 16-year-old, who is of African origin and who lives in north London, and Michael Magarian represented the 15-year-olds, who are of Turkish origin.

Judge David Stokes allowed the upstairs public gallery to be opened for other members of the defendants' families to attend the hearing.

Damilola's parents did not attend court.