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John Boyega: My friend Damilola Taylor’s murder ‘shaped’ me | UK News


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John Boyega has told how his friend Damilola Taylor’s “tragic” murder “shaped” him, spurring him on to follow his dream to become a movie star.

The Star Wars actor, 32, said he wanted to speak about the schoolboy’s killing for the first time publicly after the death of Damilola’s father aged 75 on Saturday.

Boyega and his sister Grace were among the last people to see the 10-year-old before he was stabbed in the leg with a broken beer bottle in Peckham south, London, on 27 November 2000 as he walked home from the local library after school.

“I definitely think Damilola’s tragic murder has definitely shaped me through the years and just affected my perspective on certain things and it definitely affected the community too,” he told John Wilson on BBC Radio 4’s Last Word.

Boyega said he was impacted by a poem written by Damilola – who dreamed of being a doctor – which was read by his father at his funeral.

Damilola Taylor. Pic: PA
Damilola was stabbed to death aged 10. Pic: PA

“That was a poem that spoke about what Damilola wanted to achieve, how far he wanted his dreams to spread, who he wanted to impact and touch,” he said.

“And I guess that, just amongst other things, just gave birth to this mentality that I had.

“What is truly my dream? Do I have the guts to identify what my dream is? Am I too young to identify my dream and work towards it?

“And after reading that poem, I was just like, yeah, I have no excuse. I want to be a movie star.

“And not just because I want to be [one] but because someone else like Damilola Taylor, in my environment too, dreamed to be more.

“And I think that’s worth it. And it definitely has impacted me till today.”

Richard Taylor with his wife Gloria outside the Old Bailey in 2006. Pic: PA
Richard Taylor and his wife Gloria set up a trust in memory of their son. Pic: PA

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Damilola had moved to London from Nigeria a few months before he was found bleeding to death in a stairway near his home.

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.

Mr Taylor, a former civil servant in Nigeria, campaigned tirelessly against knife crime following the death of his son and, along with his wife Gloria Taylor, who died aged 57 in 2008, set up the Damilola Taylor Trust in May 2001.

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Boyega, who is from Peckham, said he has been a “big beneficiary” of their work and said that he, along with his sister, believe Damilola would have grown up to be a “handsome young man with great opportunities and great morals”.

“Whatever his chosen field would be, he’d definitely still be funny,” he said.

“But I think that he would have grown up to be someone great and someone that is an important part of our community.”

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Written by: radioroxi

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