A MAN has been found not guilty of murdering PC Keith Blakelock during the Tottenham riots nearly 30 years ago.
The officer was attacked by an armed mob after his unit was deployed to protect firefighters tackling a blaze on the Broad-water Farm estate in north London on the night of 6 October, 1985.
Nicky Jacobs, who was 16 at the time, went on trial at the Old Bailey accused of being one of the rioters who together stabbed the officer more than 40 times. Mr Jacobs had denied murder.
The trial heard that rioters tried to decapitate the 40-year-old beat policeman, leaving a knife lodged in his head.
Mr Jacobs was the seventh person to be charged with the officer’s murder but no-one has been brought to justice for the killing.
When the not guilty verdict was delivered, PC Blakelock’s widow, Elizabeth Johnson, left the courtroom and wept, while her three sons held their heads in their hands.
The family later issued a statement to the press saying they were “extremely sad and disappointed”.
Meanwhile, Mr Jacobs punched the air and sobbed in the dock as supporters in the public gallery shouted with joy.
Stafford Scott, a supporter of Mr Jacobs, said afterwards that questions should be raised with the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions as to why such a “farcical” case came to trial.
He told reporters outside
the court: “It is not a day of joy. Everybody should be able to take the notion of receiving justice as standard.”
But the Crown Prosecution Service said that, while it accepted the verdict, “it was
right” to prosecute Mr Jacobs.
Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley vowed: “We will not give up on bringing Keith’s killers to justice.”
He said: “Sadly, Keith’s widow, family and friends still have not seen anyone brought to justice for his murder.
“The dignity, extraordinary patience and courage they
have shown in their nearly 30-year quest for justice is humbling.”
Mr Jacobs’ prosecution followed an earlier trial in 1987, when three men were convicted of the murder but later freed on appeal. The case against three youths was dropped.
During the course of three separate investigations, a controversial decision was made to give immunity to so-called “kickers” – those who were involved in the attack but did not use weapons – in exchange for their co-operation.
Among them were the prosecution witnesses given the pseudonyms Rhodes Levin and John Brown, who both admitted kicking PC Blakelock and were given amnesty from prosecution.
Some of the witnesses also received payments from police for their co-operation, the jury was told.
Mr Jacobs’ lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths QC, dismissed their evidence as “riddled with lies, incoherent and contradictory”.
Other evidence presented to the court included a rap poem about the murder which Mr Jacobs wrote while in custody.
The poem read: “Me have de chopper we have intention to kill an police officer PC Blakelock de unlucky f***er him dis an help de fireman.”
Of this evidence, Mr Griffiths said: “Bob Marley wrote I Shot The Sheriff but I have not heard of him being put on trial for murder.”
The Old Bailey trial also heard that in May 2000 Mr Jacobs was arrested and told a police officer: “F*** off, I was one of them who killed Keith Blakelock.”
It is thought Mr Jacobs will be released from Belmarsh prison today.