THE Crown’s case against Nicky Jacobs relied on three anonymous witnesses who claimed to have seen him murder Pc Keith Blakelock, from Sunderland, in October 1985.
It can now be reported for the first time that during legal argument before the trial, police confirmed that there was a “snitch list” in circulation which contained the names of people believed to be informers or witnesses.
Although the prosecution’s three key witnesses were not on that list, they gave evidence from behind a curtain, using pseudonyms and a voice modulator so they could not be recognised.
To the court, they were known as John Brown, Rhodes Levin and Witness Q.
A former member of the Park Lane Crew gang, which followed local football club Tottenham Hotspur, Brown admitted kicking Pc Blakelock up to 10 times but was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for evidence he provided against stabbers.
The witness, who attended a special needs school as a child, told the court that he had seen Jacobs use a scythe or machete with a 12-inch blade to stab Pc Blakelock.
In a first statement to police in January 1986 he did not mention Jacobs at all, claiming in court that he was too frightened to speak out at that stage.
But following a guilty plea for affray and burglary in connection with the riots later that year, Brown claimed he had seen the defendant at the scene.
It was only 1993 that he told police that he had seen Jacobs and others stabbing the officer, after which he received £5,000 in payments from the police.
The court heard that Brown originally told police: “I’m not a racist person, but to me a black is a black. I can’t tell the difference between them.”
During his evidence, he located the attack on Pc Blakelock at different parts of Broadwater Farm estate.
Levin, the prosecution’s only black witness, received a reward of £2,500 after providing information against Jacobs and others in 1992.
He admitted that he had kicked Pc Blakelock during the attack and it was put to him by the defence that he may actually have been the one who dragged the officer to the ground.
The witness said he saw Jacobs kicking and punching Pc Blakelock during the onslaught and claimed the defendant had been carrying a lock knife at the scene with a brown handle and blade of around six inches at the scene.
Immediately after the attack, Levin said that Jacobs boasted he had “got a couple of jooks in” on the policeman - slang for stabs.
After being arrested in November 1985, he told police that Winston Silcott had been orchestrating the attack on Pc Blakelock and was the only one he saw with a “large machete” - a claim he now says was a “complete fabrication”.
Mr Silcott went on to become one of three men who had their 1987 convictions for allegedly murdering the officer quashed in 1991.
The court heard that witness Q, who admitted being a heroin addict and alcoholic, is Brown’s cousin.
He first came forward after police slipped a note under his door in 2009 and claimed he had seen the attack on Pc Blakelock from around 12 feet away but not taken part himself.
Q said he saw Jacobs making a stabbing motion with a “tool” but could not confirm if it was a knife or a machete.
Although he was the only witness who actually lived on the estate, Q told the jury that the attack on Pc Blakelock happened under the Martlesham block - on the opposite side of the Broadwater Farm to where it took place.
Under cross-examination he denied being “delusional” or a “fantasist” and claimed that he was unaware there had been any offer of reward money.