Three teenagers appeared Friday in court for the first time since being accused of murdering a 10-year-old Nigerian-born schoolboy, whose death more than four years ago shocked Britain.
The trio, who were charged on Thursday with the Nov. 2000 murder of Damilola Taylor, were remanded in custody by a south London court and ordered to appear again Jan. 14 at the Old Bailey, a major criminal court in London.
Around a dozen youngsters were arrested soon after the crime, including the trio now charged who were aged between 12 and 14 at the time of the murder.
Four other youths stood trial in 2002 for the killing, but were acquitted after a lengthy hearing, following doubts about the evidence of the key witness.
Taylor bled to death on a stairwell of a run-down housing estate in the impoverished London suburb of Peckham after being attacked with a broken beer bottle as he returned home from an after school computer class.
The killing prompted a long bout of soul searching in Britain's media about violent crime, the safety of inner cities and a perceived end to childhood innocence.
Damilola's parents, who were not in court for the hearing, have been kept informed by the police about the investigation, some of which has focused on overcoming a wall of silence the original police team met in Peckham.
The three defendants sat quietly behind a screen of three-inch thick glass in a fully enclosed dock, surrounded by nine plain clothes detectives and court staff, staring at the floor for most of the hearing, rarely looking up.
The defendants spoke only when they were asked by district judge Alan Baldwin to give their dates of birth.
The judge said he was sending the case straight to the Old Bailey.