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Father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor has died

Richard Taylor, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor, has died aged 75.

Mr Taylor campaigned tirelessly against gang violence in the capital after his 10-year-old son was murdered in south London on 27 November 2000 as he walked home from the local library after school.

Damilola, who dreamed of being a doctor, had moved to London from Nigeria a few months before he was found bleeding to death in a stairwell near his home in Peckham after being stabbed in the leg with a broken beer bottle.

A statement issued on behalf of Mr Taylor’s family said: “It is with a heavy heart that the family announce the death of our beloved father, grandfather and uncle, Mr Richard Adeyemi Taylor OBE, who sadly passed away in the early hours of Saturday 23 March at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer.”

Damilola Taylor. Pic: PA
Image: Damilola Taylor. Pic: PA

Damilola’s parents Mr Taylor and his wife Gloria Taylor, who died aged 57 in 2008, set up the Damilola Taylor Trust in May 2001 as a memorial to his son with the aim of providing hope and opportunity to disadvantaged youngsters.

Brothers Ricky and Danny Preddie were finally convicted of Damilola’s manslaughter and jailed for eight years in October 2006 after three crown court trials.

In 2020, the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, agreed to designate 7 December – Damilola’s birthday – as an annual Day Of Hope to celebrate and encourage the work of the trust and the Hope Collective.

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Mr Taylor, a former civil servant in Nigeria, regularly spoke out about knife crime and was appointed as an anti-knife crime envoy from then-prime minister Gordon Brown and in 2009 was made an OBE for his services to reducing youth violence.

In the 2006 Respect Your Life Not A Knife campaign he worked with footballer Rio Ferdinand, who was then playing for Damilola’s beloved Manchester United.

He later revealed Star Wars actor John Boyega was one of the last people to see Damilola alive.

When the moving BBC drama, Damilola, Our Loved Boy won a BAFTA in 2017, Mr Taylor used his emotional acceptance speech to appeal to end the stabbings on the streets of London.

Richard Taylor with his wife Gloria outside the Old Bailey in 2006. Pic: PA
Image: Richard Taylor with his wife Gloria outside the Old Bailey in 2006. Pic: PA

Dedicating the award to his son’s memory, he said: “I want to appeal to young people on the streets killing themselves.

“Parents are crying… killing has gone up recently in the city of London. I beg you: stop unnecessary killing of innocent people, spread the message.”

Tributes have been paid to Mr Taylor following the announcement of his death.

Labour Brent Central MP Dawn Butler posted on X: “My deepest condolences goes out to the family of Richard Taylor he was a great man & a dear friend.

“He always had such kind words of wisdom for me. I will miss him. May he rest in eternal peace and may he be reunited with Damilola in heaven.”

Florence Eshalomi, the Labour MP for Vauxhall, posted: “Very sad to hear this news.

“Uncle Richard was a strong man who held the legacy and light for the Damilola Taylor trust.

“I’m reading through my last message with him where he was reminding me about the work of the trust. He is now at peace with his beloved son and wife.”

Sky News Source