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Damilola Taylor: The father of the murdered student Richard Taylor has died

Richard Taylor, the father of murdered student 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 November 27, 2000 as he walked home from the local library after school.

Damilola, who dreamed of becoming a doctor, had moved to London from Nigeria for several months before he was found bleeding to death in a stairwell near his Peckham home 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 heavy hearts that the family announces the passing of our beloved father, grandfather and uncle, Mr Richard Adeyemi Taylor OBE, who sadly passed away in the early hours of Saturday 23rd March at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, after a long battle with prostate cancer.”

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

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

Brothers Ricky and Danny Preddie were finally convicted of Damilola’s manslaughter in October 2006 after three Crown Court trials and sentenced to eight years in prison.

In 2020, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnsonagreed to designate December 7 – Damilola’s birthday – as the annual Day of Hope to celebrate and promote the work of the Trust and the Hope Collective.

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

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

He worked with football players in the 2006 “Respect Your Life Not A Knife” campaign Rio Ferdinandwho was then playing for Damilola’s beloved Manchester United.

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

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

He dedicated the award to his son’s memory and said: “I would like to appeal to young people who take their own lives on the streets.”

“Parents cry… Killings have increased recently in the city of London. I implore you: stop the unnecessary killing of innocent people, spread the message.”

Brooke Kinsella hosted tributes to Richard Taylor.  Image: PA
Brooke Kinsella hosted tributes to Richard Taylor. Image: PA

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Honors paid

Former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, whose 16-year-old brother Ben was stabbed to death in Islington, paid tribute to Mr Taylor, who supported a march against knife crime in central London in 2008, led by the Ben Kinsella Trust, which she founded.

“Richard’s courage in the face of unimaginable grief was an inspiration to me,” she said.

“After the terrible loss of his son Damilola, he decided to channel his pain into the fight for a safer future. He turned tragedy into a fierce determination to save other families from the same heartache.”

“Richard became a close friend and confidant after Ben’s murder, sharing his strength and unwavering belief in justice.”

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Brent Central Labor MP Dawn Butler wrote on X: “My deepest condolences go out to the family of Richard Taylor. He was a great man and a dear friend.”

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

Florence Eshalomi, Labor MP for Vauxhall, wrote: “It is very sad to hear this news.”

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

“I’m just reading through my last message with him where he reminded me of the Trust’s work. He is now at peace with his beloved son and wife.”

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