PC Keith Blakelock curled up in a ball and screamed for help as a mob hacked him to death during the Broadwater Farm riots in north London, an eyewitness has told the Old Bailey.
Using the pseudonym John Brown and with his voice distorted by a modulator to protect his identity, the witness described how he saw the killing on the estate in Tottenham on October 6 1985.
He explained that he had seen Nicky Jacobs, 45, stabbing Pc Blakelock, who was from Sunderland, with a machete between two and four times as the frenzied mob took part in a “free for all”.
Asked by Richard Whittam QC, for the prosecution, what the officer was doing during the attack, Mr Brown said: “What I saw, he was trying to curl up into a ball, I suppose to protect himself somehow.
“Did he say anything?” Mr Whittam asked.
“I just heard heard screams of ‘help, help, help’.”
Mr Brown, a former member of the Park Lane Boys gang, who accepted a caution for assaulting his partner in 2010, said Jacobs used a machete with a 12-inch blade during the attack.
“He was attacking the officer and hit him with a couple of blows on his body, stabbing up and down with the machete,” he said.
Mr Brown said that afterwards he saw a gash on the officer’s neck and blows on his body, and told the jury that he himself had kicked the officer some 10 times after he went to the ground, saying when asked why: “Looking back on it I don’t know. It was the excitement of the situation, I just rushed forward and kicked him about ten times.”
The witness said he had been paid a £5,000 reward by the police after giving a statement during a renewed police investigation into the killing in 1993.
Mr Brown also said it was “common knowledge” ahead of the riots that there was going to be trouble, telling the jury he had heard others say Jacobs was going round saying he was going to “give an officer a hiding if he got the opportunity, or do some damage”.
Jacobs denied murder.
The court heard that Mr Brown had not mentioned Jacobs in a first statement given to police in January 1986.
After pleading guilty to affray and burglary in connection with the riots, he gave a statement in July that year placing Jacobs at the scene.
Mr Brown told the court that he was 18 or 19 at the time of the riots, while Jacobs was 16, and the pair lived around the corner from each other.
The witness said the Park Lane Boys, a gang which followed local football club Tottenham Hotspur, had been preparing for the riots days before Pc Blakelock’s death.
The gang had stockpiled petrol bombs at a fish and chip shop in Park Lane ahead of the disturbances, the court heard.
After the riots, Mr Brown gave evidence against Jacobs at his trial for affray in November 1986.
Cross-examining the witness, defence barrister Courtenay Griffths QC suggested that Mr Brown and other eyewitnesses had first chosen to identify Jacobs because they saw him as an “easy target”.
Mr Griffiths said: “You very deliberately chose to name Nicky Jacobs; one, because he was young; two, because he posed no threat to you; and three, you quite wrongly thought that he had been charged with murder. Is that true?”
Mr Brown disagreed.
Moving on to a new statement that the witness gave to police in 1993, in which he claimed for the first time to have seen Jacobs using a machete during the attack, the defence barrister asked if he had done it for the police reward.
The lawyer claimed that Mr Brown had “joined heads together” with another eyewitness, who was referred to in court by the pseudonym Rhodes Levin.
“Your motivation for coming forward to give this lying account is money, pure and simple, isn’t it?” he asked the witness.
“No, definitely not,” Mr Brown replied.
“You and Rhodes Levin joined your heads together to fit up Nicky Jacobs, didn’t you?”
“That’s rubbish, I’m sorry,” Mr Brown replied.
“And you did it for the money?”
“No, that’s not true.”
Mr Griffiths asked the witness if police officers had visited him at this home in June 1993 and told him that, in order for there to be a “realistic prospect of prosecution”, three or four witnesses would need to come forward.
He asked if Mr Brown had then put his cousin up as an eyewitness in order to get the reward, to which Mr Brown replied that he “totally disagreed” with the claim.