PC Keith Blakelock: Murder trial told armed mob killed officer

Ben Geoghegan reports

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A police officer was killed in a "ferocious attack without mercy" when he was set upon by an armed mob during rioting in north London in 1985, a court has heard.

Nicholas Jacobs, 45, denies murdering PC Keith Blakelock in Tottenham.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam told the jury at the Old Bailey the officer had been stabbed more than 40 times and the group tried to decapitate him.

Mr Whittam said the mob was shouting "kill the pig" as they attacked.

Start Quote

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'”

End Quote Richard Whittam Prosecutor

Mr Jacobs, who was 16 at the time, had a bladed weapon which he used in the joint attack, the court heard.

The prosecutor 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.

"At least some of the rioters in 1985 appeared to have as their target the death of a police officer," he told the jury.

"Whether that was their primary objective is not something that you will have to decide."

PC Blakelock was among a group of uniformed officers sent out on the night of Sunday, 6 October to protect firemen putting out blazes.

Nicholas Jacobs Nicholas Jacobs denies murdering the officer

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."

Cars left overturned and burned-out in the street after rioting on the Broadwater Farm housing estate About 500 police battled with rampaging youths who threw bricks and bottles from walkways in the estate

Addressing the jury on the first day of the trial, the judge, Mr Justice Nicol, said: "Any case of murder, perhaps especially this one, may arouse strong emotions. You must set those aside."

The jury was told this was is not the first criminal trial to have taken place over this murder.

In March 1987, three men were found guilty, however their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991, leading to a new investigation in 1992-93.

The new inquiry faced a dilemma in trying to get witness accounts of the attack on PC Blakelock because the prosecution needed witnesses who were close enough to see clearly what happened.

As some of them may have taken part themselves - making them liable for possible prosecution - the police and the Crown Prosecution Service decided to pursue those who they believed had weapons as suspects and regard unarmed attackers who punched and kicked as witnesses.

The case continues.

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