SUNDERLAND police officer Keith Blakelock was stabbed to death during the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots after he was set upon by an armed mob yelling “kill the pig”, a court heard.
Nicholas Jacobs, 45, is accused of murdering the 40-year-old city-born officer as he tried to protect firefighters tackling a blaze at the height of the unrest in Tottenham, north London.
Pc Blakelock’s widow, Elizabeth Johnson, of West Boldon, and their three sons, Lee, Kevin and Mark, were in court at the Old Bailey to witness the start of the trial, expected to last six weeks.
Opening the prosecution at the Old Bailey, Richard Whittam QC said the riots of 1985 were more “sinister” than the later ones in Tottenham in 2011.
They erupted the day after Cynthia Jarrett, a mother of a police suspect, had a heart attack and died when her home was searched in Thorpe Road, Tottenham.
Mr Whittam said: “At least some of the rioters in 1985 appeared to have as their target the death of a police officer.
“Whether that was their primary objective is not something that you will have to decide. The fact is that one police officer was killed and another very seriously injured.”
Pc Blakelock was among a group of uniformed officers sent out without cover on the night of Sunday October 6 1985 to protect firemen putting out blazes.
They came across a “very large group” of rioters, many armed with an assortment of weapons, the court heard.
“Very heavily outnumbered and fearful they may become trapped both the police and the firefighters were forced to retreat. Outside the flats, as they ran for safety, Pc Blakelock and Pc Richard Coombes went to ground and were set upon to shouts of ‘kill the pig’ and the like.”
“Pc Coombes was very fortunate to survive. Pc Blakelock did not. The attack on him was without mercy. In the ferocious attack his helmet came off.
“He was beaten and stabbed to death before his colleagues were able to force the attackers away.
“Pc Blakelock suffered something in excess of 40 stab-type injuries and there appears to have been an attempt made to decapitate him.”
Mr Whittam told the jury that the allegation against Jacobs was that “he was armed with a bladed weapon and he used it as part of the joint attack” on Pc Blakelock.
“There is no dispute that Pc Blakelock was murdered,” he said. “There is no dispute that Nicky Jacobs was involved in the public disorder that night, as were some of the witnesses.
“That is not what he is on trial for. Neither is any witness on trial for that or anything else. Nicky Jacobs is the sole person on trial. He is on trial for the murder of Pc Blakelock.”
The court heard that Jacobs was 16, almost 17, at the time of the attack in October 1985, which followed weeks of tension and concerns that “individuals were planning public disturbances” in the borough of Haringey.
Mr Whittam told the jury of seven men and five women that there had been two investigations into the murder prior to the current one.
The first inquiry in 1985 resulted in three juveniles and three adults being charged for murder.
Although the case against the juveniles did not proceed, all three adults were convicted on March 1987.
Their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991, leading to a new investigation in 1992/93.
The prosecutor said that the new inquiry faced a dilemma in trying to get witness accounts of the attack on Pc Blakelock.
While they needed eye witnesses close enough to see clearly what happened, some of them may have taken part themselves, ordinarily making them liable for prosecution.
The prosecutor told the court that in 1993: “An agreement was reached outlining a form of conditional immunity from prosecution for some of those involved in the attack.”
Jacobs denies the murder.