Damilola Taylor was only ten years old when he died alone, attacked and left to bleed to death in agony in a south London stairwell.
His killers, Ricky Preddie was only 13 and his brother Danny only 12, when they committed the crime that shocked the nation.
Damilola Taylor had only been in the United Kingdom for a few months when his life was tragically cut short.
His family had moved from Nigeria to Britain in August 2000, the 10-year-old was killed on November 27 the same year.
It happened as Damilola Taylor was strolling home from the library that the child, who dreamed of becoming a lawyer, was stabbed in the thigh with a broken bottle after he was approached by a group of youths.
Damilola was found bleeding to death in a stairwell near his home in Peckham, south London, where local workmen tried to save his life.
He had desperately tried to crawl to safety and a 30 trail of blood was left on the street after the horrifying attack, but it was six years before the killers were brought to justice.
Ricky and Danny Preddie were convicted of manslaughter and were sentenced to eight years in youth custody, but Damilola Taylor’s parents, Richard and Gloria, were determined their son’s death would not be in vain and set up the Damilola Taylor Trust, which strives to support young people in deprived and inner-city areas.
Yinka Bokinni, radio presenter hosted a documentary with the youngster’s friend, the documentary was called The Boy Next Door on Channel 4.
The Capital XTRA presenter explained that the kid that she knew was shouting and running and jumping and screaming and laughing. He was so easygoing and courageous.
She said it’s a tribute to our friend and it’s also a film of hope and the hope that it humanises Damilola, and gives you more than what that now-iconic picture of him symbolises.
She said that she felt that when people see him in his school uniform and that when people see him with his half-smile, they only see the victim.
Popular schoolboy Damilola Taylor was also close friends with Star Wars actor John Boyega and his sister, Grace.
Richard Taylor, Damilola’s father, explained that Damilola, John and Grace were so close and they looked after him when he came to the United Kingdom because they went to school together.
John and Grace, who Richard said was like a girlfriend to Damilola, where the last two people to see the schoolboy alive.
As he left the library Damilola was caught on CCTV getting into a lift with two friends, who were not identified at the time, but were John and his sister.
Richard said they were the last to see him. They wanted to accompany him home, but he said he was going to be okay.
They left him by the junction then he went around the corner and the gang were waiting for him.
John has never forgotten his childhood pal and nominated the Trust set up in Damilola’s name to receive a donation from the Star Wars launch.
Richard, who attended the premiere, said that he was overwhelmed and that it filled him with happiness.
However, John’s success, along with Damilola’s other close friend Yinka has made his father consider what his young son could have accomplished if his life hadn’t been cut short in such a harrowing way.
Richard said that he thought that Damilola could have been working with him as an actor.
Damilola Taylor was acting in primary school, in Christmas plays, school plays, reciting poems and all that sort of stuff, but there’s good coming out of the place because John’s promoting Peckham, not renouncing his roots and Damilola would have been doing the same thing.
And he can see through those friends the life Damilola might have lived because many of those who grew up in scandalous housing in North Peckham still made a name for themselves. Some became GPs, accountants, footballers or are in the media.
He said that he was so proud that they lived under those excruciating circumstances, they struggled through life but have done extremely well like Yinka Bokinni and John Boyega.
This was heartbreaking because the poor boy was so full of life and an unforgettable and painful loss, that his parents will never forget and may his memory go on.
We must educate our children early and have more understanding of child violence and more resources are needed.
We would like to have more peace in the world but unfortunately for generations to come there will always be destruction and unfortunately we choose to destroy – it all goes together, power, money, religion, greed and awareness is needed because so many young people are struggling in life with many falling victim to criminality or being killed.
One of the killers Ricky Preddie didn’t learn his lesson and since being released has been in and out of prison numerous times for loads of different offences and gang association.
Ricky Preddie ended up back in prison for driving into a female police officer.
He was sentenced to four years imprisonment and banned from driving for 12 years, which will start when he’s released from prison.
After serving his sentence for Damilola Taylor’s death, Ricky Preddie was paroled in September 2010. His brother Danny followed the next year after being given early release.
Ricky Preddie was sent back to prison in March 2011 after breaching his licence conditions.
He was released in January 2012, but just 16 days later he was imprisoned again for violating his parole when he visited places he was banned from and seeing friends from his old gang.
Sadly, some people can’t be helped and they just need locking up for good, and you just have to watch the very tragic loss of a lovely young boy to realise that, and what a pitiful sentence those boys got, regardless if they were kids, they should have got much longer.
I remember this like it was yesterday – ten years old, truly heartbreaking, he was just a baby.