Richard Taylor death: Campaigner and father of Damilola Taylor dies

Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor died on Saturday with prostate cancer

Campaigner Richard Taylor, the father of Damilola Taylor who was killed 24 years ago, has died, it has been announced.

His son was 10 years old when he was stabbed in the leg and left to die in a south London stairwell in 2000.

The former Nigerian civil servant dedicated years to improving the lives of disadvantaged children in the wake of his son's death.

Mr Taylor died on Saturday aged 75 with prostate cancer.

He set up the Damilola Taylor Trust to campaign against knife crime.

A statement issued on behalf of his 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 March 23 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer."

Damilola Taylor
Damilola was stabbed with a broken beer bottle 24 years ago

Mr Taylor said he wanted his son to be remembered as a boy of hope and for his legacy to be a better life and opportunities for underprivileged young people.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was among those paying tribute, saying in a post on X: "Richard championed breaking down barriers to opportunity through the Damilola Taylor Trust, in honour of his son's memory.

"He will be remembered for his courage, determination and message of hope. My condolences to Richard's family and friends."

Damilola was left bleeding to death in a stairwell in Peckham, south-east London, after he was attacked and slashed with a broken bottle on his way home from a library.

The boy's death shocked the nation and became one of London's most high-profile killings.

After three crown court trials, his killers - brothers Ricky and Danny Preddie - were jailed in 2006.

Richard Taylor and his late wife Gloria were spurred on to set up a charity in their son's memory following his death.

Richard Taylor
Mr Taylor stepped back from campaigning in early-2020

Mr Taylor was awarded an OBE in 2012 for his crusade against violent crime and dedicated it to the memory of Damilola.

Damilola was killed on 27 November 2000, months after he moved to the UK from Nigeria with his mother, brother Tunde and sister Gbemi in the summer of 2000.

Mr Taylor stayed working for the Nigerian civil service and the family settled in Peckham as they aimed to get medical treatment for Gbemi, who had a severe form of epilepsy.

Damilola had ambitions for a future in the medical profession to carry out research to help his sister.

Mrs Taylor died in 2008 after suffering a heart attack and Mr Taylor continued their work in the following years.

When Mr Taylor stepped back from campaigning in early-2020, he told journalists how he had done his bit for two decades.

"Twenty years has taken a toll on me," he said.

He campaigned about the effects of knife crime and spoke at schools about the devastation, loss, and pain he and his family had endured.

Celebrity support

He had met royalty, prime ministers, home secretaries, and police leaders to bring about change with his mission, he said, to keep Damilola's name at the forefront of policy makers.

The family was supported by several celebrities, including footballer Rio Ferdinand, who grew up in Peckham and backed their charity work.

Star Wars actor John Boyega was a childhood friend of Damilola and he and his sister Grace were among the last people to see the 10-year-old alive before he walked home on the day he was killed.

Damilola's death raised many questions including what leads young people to commit such acts of violence.

Richard Taylor and Gordon Brown
Mr Taylor was appointed as an anti-knife crime envoy under then-prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009

Both the Preddie brothers had been in and out of children's homes and were 12 and 13 when they killed Damilola.

One social worker told the Old Bailey trial: "These children were wild, we couldn't control them, they were constantly running away, we couldn't do anything".

The brothers were sentenced to serve eight years in youth custody. Ricky Preddie and Danny Preddie were given early release in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Despite their ages, neither were awarded anonymity orders unlike other child killers, which angered some social justice campaigners. Richard Taylor had once said he "could never forgive the Preddie brothers".

The Damilola Taylor Trust runs a number of outreach programmes including internship schemes, educational courses and mentoring project, which was launched with the support of former footballer Ferdinand.

In 2017, a BBC drama called Damilola, Our Loved Boy was made, which told of the family's struggle for justice and went on to win two Baftas.

Mr and Mrs Taylor outside the Old Bailey
Mr and Mrs Taylor pictured in 2006 after the Preddie brothers were convicted of manslaughter

Mr Taylor supported a march against knife crime in central London in 2008 attended by thousands of young people and led by the Ben Kinsella Trust.

The trust was founded by former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, whose 16-year-old brother Ben was stabbed to death in Islington.

She said Mr Taylor's courage had been an inspiration.

"After the horrific loss of his son Damilola, he chose to channel his pain into a fight for a safer future.

"He turned tragedy into a relentless determination to keep other families from experiencing the same heartbreak."

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police paid tribute to Mr Taylor on X.

"His work to improve the lives of young people in London in memory of his son Damilola is a fitting tribute and legacy that will continue," the post said.

Harriet Harman, former Labour minister and MP for Camberwell and Peckham, also paid tribute to Mr Taylor on X.

She said he "never stopped fighting for other children" to have the chances that his son never had.

Labour Brent Central MP Dawn Butler said her "deepest condolences goes out to the family of Richard Taylor".

Writing on X, she said: "He was a great man and 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."

Labour MP for Vauxhall Florence Eshalomi said in a post on X: "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."


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