Pc Blakelock killing sparked one of longest and most controversial murder hunts in history

PC KEITH BLAKELOCK ... died trying to protect firefighters during the Tottenham riots.
PC KEITH BLAKELOCK ... died trying to protect firefighters during the Tottenham riots.
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THE savage murder of Pc Keith Blakelock in 1985 shocked the nation and led to one of the longest-running and most controversial murder hunts in the history of Scotland Yard.

Nothing like it had been seen since 1833 when Pc Robert Culley was stabbed to death during riots in Clerkenwell.

Pc Blakelock and his unit were ill-prepared for what they were to encounter on the Broadwater Farm Estate on the night of Sunday October 6 1985.

The 40-year-old, who was originally from Sunderland, had been working as a beat bobby in Muswell Hill. He had no formal riot training and was armed only with a truncheon and had a shield and helmet for protection.

His unit, Serial 502, had been sent to help firefighters put out a fire in a supermarket on an upper deck of Tangmere block, but the unit became surrounded by rioters and they had to battle their way out of the building.

Pc Blakelock had stayed at ground level with a colleague to keep their exit clear. As the unit emerged from the building into the dark, he was set upon by a large crowd armed with an assortment of weapons, including knives and machetes.

He was stabbed more than 40 times to shouts of “kill the pig” and an attempt was made to decapitate him. His colleague Pc Richard Coombes was also attacked but managed to survive.

The riots came as tension between the community and police reached breaking point with the death of Cynthia Jarrett from a heart attack during a search of her home in Tottenham.

Since the murder, there have been three separate investigations as police sought justice for Pc Blakelock.

These efforts, according to the Jacobs’s defence, only served to alienate the community more.

Nicky Jacobs was the seventh person to be charged over the mob killing, as previous attempts to secure a successful conclusion to the case foundered.

Among the accused were three youths who never faced trial after a judge ruled their questioning was inadmissible.

One of them was Yardie gang leader Mark Lambie who was later jailed for kidnap and torture in 2002 after terrorising the Broadwater Farm estate.

In March 1987, Winston Silcott, Mark Braithwaite and Engin Raghip were found guilty of the murder.

But their convictions were quashed four and a half years later, after forensic tests on pages of key interview records suggested they had been fabricated.

Mr Silcott later accepted £50,000 compensation from the Metropolitan Police for their part in his wrongful conviction.

In January 1993, in a bid to encourage witnesses to come forward, the controversial decision was taken to draw a distinction between so-called “kickers” and “stabbers”.

Police offered immunity to people who did not use weapons in the attack on Pc Blakelock - among them were the witnesses referred to as John Brown and Rhodes Levin who were to give evidence against Jacobs.

Some of the informers were also paid for their co-operation.

Meanwhile, in 1994, charges were brought against two officers involved in the original inquiry. They were accused of fabricating evidence but were both cleared at the Old Bailey.

In 2003, Scotland Yard reopened the murder investigation after a review and made a series of arrests in connection with Pc Blakelock’s death and the attempted murder of his colleague Pc Coombes.

And later in 2005, police released images of Mr Blakelock’s blood-stained overalls in a bid to prompt fresh witnesses come forward.

Investigators repeatedly said people in the area had information about the identity of the killers they have not shared with police.

Jacobs was interviewed again by police in 2010 but was only charged in 2013, prompting his lawyer Courtenay Griffiths QC to question why it had taken so long.

In fact, the defendant who was 16 at the time, was first arrested over the murder five days after the riots.

In a police interview accompanied by his mother he denied involvement.

He was charged with affray and later sentenced to youth detention for eight years, reduced to five on appeal.

Police had known about a rap poem in which Jacobs allegedly described the murder while behind bars since it was found in 1988.

By that time, police also had evidence he was on the Broadwater Estate the night of the riots.

By 1994, police had the witnesses John Brown and Rhodes Levin.

And by 2000, police knew about a comment Jacobs made to a police officer claiming involvement in the murder of Pc Blakelock.

Five years ago the witness Q came forward alleging he had seen Jacobs attacking Pc Blakelock with a weapon.

During his closing speech Mr Griffiths accused the original police inquiry of “malice and corruption” and condemned efforts to convict Jacobs 28 years later as “deplorable”.

He told the jury: “You are being asked 28 years after the event to bring closure to this disgraceful episode. This is to our mind a bleak and dismal story.”

However, the prosecutor Richard Whittam QC urged the jury to set aside emotions about the case and try Jacobs on the evidence alone.