'By itself, this might not necessarily undermine all her evidence but coupled with all the other circumstances it must cause further very considerable concern.' The judge concluded that a reasonable jury, properly directed, could not be sure that she was there at the time and saw an incident which resulted in Damilola's death.
When the Crown opened the case, prosecuting counsel Mark Dennis said the 17-yearold had told inmates at Feltham remand centre in Middlesex, where he was being held on an unrelated charge, that he was present when Damilola was murdered.
Yesterday, after hearing legal submissions in the absence of the jurors, the judge recalled them and declared that they should ignore the girl's evidence.
He said she had admitted telling a series of 'embellished lies', and her account of witnessing the killing had an 'inherent unlikeliness'.
But during some of the most extraordinary cross-examination ever heard at the Old Bailey, her testimony was virtually destroyed by lawyers defending the youths.
She twice caused the trial to be halted by announcing that she was going home.
The 17-year-old had picked up a beer bottle and smashed it in half, she said, handing it to one of the other gang members.The judge said: 'There can, in my judgment, be no doubt that the various inducements would have made any confession obtained from a suspect inadmissible as unreliable.'Whilst accepting that she only once complained about what happened and that she maintains the truth of most of what she then said, nonetheless the danger that she was persuaded to tell untruths is very real.She refused to answer questions at one stage and swore at a defence barrister.The jury was told that, while under police protection, she was allowed to run up a £4,000 hotel bill in a week, taken on trips to the seaside and given presents by officers.