The father of Damilola Taylor, the schoolboy killed in Peckham in a case that shocked Britain, has issued a heartfelt plea to young people over London knife crime.
Speaking as he collected a Bafta on Sunday for a drama depicting his son’s death, Richard Taylor “begged” young people to stop murdering each other.
Taylor, speaking hours after yet another teenager died of stab wounds in London, said: “I want to dedicate this to the memory of Damilola Taylor and Gloria, my late wife, and first and foremost send a strong appeal to young people on the street killing themselves.”
While surrounded by Damilola’s brother, Tunde, and the production team, Taylor added: “Parents are crying, others are crying, the surge of killing has gone up in the city of London, I beg you all to stop this unnecessary killing of innocent people. Young people, spread the message.”
Damilola, Our Loved Boy was awarded the prize for best single drama at the British Academy Television Awards.
In November 2000, Damilola was found bleeding to death in a stairwell near his Peckham home after being stabbed with a broken beer bottle, just days before his 11th birthday.
Two trials in 2002 and 2006 led to several youths being acquitted, before brothers, Ricky and Danny Preddie, were convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to eights years in youth custody.
According to Scotland Yard, Saturday night’s 18-year-old victim was the 10th teenager to be killed in the capital this year.
The teenager was found suffering from stab wounds after police were called to reports of a mass brawl in Enfield, around 10.30pm on Saturday.
A 19-year-old man and 17-year-old boy, found nearby, also suffered knife wounds.
On the same evening, in Bow, east London, a 41-year-old man was found dead having been shot and stabbed. Police are appealed for witnesses to the incident to come forward.
Damilola, Our Loved Boy is not told as a murder whodunnit, and the boy’s death is not shown. It also does not explore the judiciary’s response to the knife crime, then, or now.
Instead, it tells the story of Damilola’s family’s journey from their home in Lagos, Nigeria, to London, where they hoped to make a fresh start.
Actor Babou Ceesay plays Taylor, who he did not meet during filming.
“The idea was floated that I shouldn’t (meet him),” he said last year. “I resisted that at first, but then I realised that what we were doing will never amount to what Richard went through. It would have been a lot of pressure if I’d met him in person.
“I had a little bit more freedom to trust my instincts as a fellow West African, and from a similar family. I just thought I’d try to see where that would take me. It was overwhelming and wonderful to meet him finally.”