The father of Damilola Taylor has said that “good things” had come of his 10-year-old son’s death, putting “smiles on our faces” nearly a decade later.
Richard Taylor acknowledged that every day had been difficult since the tragic killing, as it approaches its 10th anniversary, shocked the nation.
But he said: “I’m really impressed with all the good things that have started coming up as a result of what happened to my son.”
Joined by the youngster’s close friend Grace Adegboydga, he told the BBC: “There’s a lot that has been put in place since his sudden death. We have, over the past 10 years, been working with young people, we’ve done a lot of work with youths and I’m so glad that today we have smiles on our faces.”
Miss Adegboydga, who believes she was the last person to see Damilola alive, said the events of November 2000 were “still fresh in my memory”.
“Although it is 10 years, I do feel as if it was yesterday that he was taken away,” she said. “I used to feel that I could (have been) able to help him at that particular time although I wasn’t there. I still think that there was something I could have done but there really wasn’t.”
The university student added: “I’ve had to move on. I can’t just dwell in the past but it has made me realise that I have to take life, that life is precious. We can’t take life for granted. Damilola was innocent – that shows that innocent people can get killed.”
Mr Taylor said: “Dami’s ambition was to go to university and study. What Dami can’t achieve, if I see people like Grace achieve, it pleases my heart.”
Damilola moved to Britain from Nigeria a few months before he was jabbed in the thigh with a broken beer bottle by a gang of youths as he walked home from the local library after school.
The youngster, who fell foul of bullying brothers Ricky Preddie, 23, and Danny, 22, was found bleeding to death in a stairwell near his home in Peckham, south London, where local workmen tried to save his life. The pair were convicted of manslaughter and jailed for eight years in October 2006.