Great Britain

Damilola Taylor’s childhood pal left ‘so heartbroken and emotionally drained’ by new doc tracking brutal murder aged 10

DAMILOLA Taylor's childhood friend was left 'so heartbroken and emotionally drained' by a new documentary tracking his brutal murder aged 10.

The nation was left shocked in November 2000 when Damilola was slashed with a broken bottle by a 12 and 13-year-old as he walked home from computer club in Peckham, London.

Now, 20 years on from his tragic death, his neighbour and friend Yinka Bokinni is speaking for the first time about the effect it had on her, her peers and the community in a new Channel 4 documentary.

Damilola: The Boy Next Door features archive footage of a confused Yinka being interviewed by Panorama aged 11, and also sees her discuss her feelings with her sister and childhood best friend.

While the experience was cathartic, it was also incredibly painful, with Yinka telling Stylist magazine: "It felt like it was time to reflect; the truth is I’d never really dealt with his death and what it meant until we started making this documentary.

"It was emotionally draining, but I felt like I wanted to do Damilola the service of telling his story correctly. 

"Twenty years is a long time but it doesn’t take away the sting or the sense of grief. So it feels very fresh, especially because it’s the first time I’m speaking about it.

"All in all, it was a baptism of fire into the world of documentary filmmaking."

Yinka has gone on to become a DJ and presenter and the documentary highlights how strong she is as a person.

However she admitted Damilola's death has had a "colossal impact" on the woman she is today, saying: "Even now, talking about it makes me feel so heartbroken.

"It’s something I won’t be able to shake. I remember getting the bus to school and going past a corner shop that had the South London Pess headlines up in the window – every day they were about Damilola, but the one that sticks with me is: ‘He died alone’.

"I’d think about that very stairwell, that lift shaft where we used to play, where he died. Fifty yards from my front door. So dark and cold and lonely.

"I just remember thinking, ‘I can’t imagine anything worse.’ So I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I’m such a people person, always trying to reach out and connect with my friends and make sure people never feel alone or unsupported."

Damilola: The Boy Next Door airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.

Damilola Taylor is remembered in a moment of silence at his Brother's wedding 19 years after his death

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