New Year Honours List 2012: Chris Preddie, Cousin Of Damilola Taylor's Killers Awarded OBE

Cousin Of Damilola Taylor's Killers Awarded OBE

A former drug-dealing gang member and cousin of schoolboy Damilola Taylor's killers is being honoured with an OBE after turning his life around.

Chris Preddie, the cousin of brothers Danny and Ricky Preddie who killed 10-year-old Damilola in 2000, devoted his life to youth work and reducing crime after shunning the gang life to work with young offenders.

But Richard Taylor, Damilola's father, said he was "totally against" Mr Preddie being honoured, calling for stricter rules to be brought in over who should be eligible for honours.

Mr Preddie, 24, acknowledged that his cousins' actions often caused him to be "knocked back" in life.

"My cousins, Ricky and Danny - I never knew them. I got brought up in North London and I met them when I was 16 and hadn't really spoken to them," he said.

"I saw them in handcuffs at the funeral.

"I have the name and I have had to take on everything else. I have been getting knocked back.

"For me, what counts is just trying to be positive.

"I hope [the OBE] shows the young people out there it doesn't matter who you are or who your family are."

Mr Preddie said he could not give the "real story" about Ricky and Danny because it was not his story. But he said he "made a choice" to take his life in a different direction.

He turned his life around eight years ago after his older brother Andrew was shot dead in Brixton and now acts as a role model for other teenagers whose lives have been touched by violence.

"It's been an emotional journey for me, since from the age of about 13," he said.

"[My brother Andrew] got shot four days after my 16th birthday. I realised it could be my life.

"I'm not going to say my brother was a bystander - but he got shot."

Mr Preddie said he reacted the same as everyone else - he was angry and wanted to lash out. He had already been slipping towards trouble during his teenage years but the death of his brother was a life-changing time.

And he said that it was youth worker called Simon who "really saved" him.

"I remember one of the first things he said to me was: 'Would your brother want you to be doing this?'

"I broke down and started crying. I thought I had been under peer pressure.

"When I realised that, I went back to college and then did performing arts at university. I got into youth work and started working for Crimestoppers."

But Mr Taylor, Damilola's father, said he was "totally against" Mr Preddie being honoured.

"I think there should be stricter rules for giving people such an honour," he said.

"He's been given this for his work with Crimestoppers and he's the cousin of the killers of my son.

"I don't think honours should be given to such people.

"To be honoured with such a prestigious award when there are hard-working people who have lost their loved ones doing similar work in the community isn't right. I think they deserve it more.

"Then such a person who just comes from nowhere and has been given such an award... I'm totally against it."


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