Case of the Month: Keith Blakelock. This month Nicholas Jacobs will appear at the Old Bailey and stand trial for the 1985 murder of UK police officer Keith Blakelock. Jacobs was 16 years old at the time of the riots.
The case is expected to last up to six weeks. No application for bail was made. Jacobs was remanded in custody to appear for a plea hearing in the week beginning October 28, 2013.
Pc Blakelock and his colleague Pc Richard Coombes were attacked during the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham in 1985. Coombes was seriously injured but survived. They were trying to protect firefighters when violence spiralled on the estate, sparked by the death of Cynthia Jarrett, 49, who collapsed during a police raid on her home.
Blakelock’s widow, Elizabeth Johnson said: “I know it was the uniform that they were attacking that night, but there was a father and a husband inside that uniform and they killed him. He didn’t stand a chance. He was armed with just a small truncheon and a shield. He was a home beat officer, he wasn’t a riot officer. But he was called on to do a duty and he did it and he gave the ultimate sacrifice for doing that.”
How traumatizing this night was is illustrated here in an article from the Telegraph: “Richard Coombes needs only to close his eyes. When he does, his face contorts. His hands, instinctively protective, are drawn to his face; to where a deeply ingrained, ragged scar runs from his right eye to his throat. He squeezes his eyelids shut, his hands now hovering over his mouth. His shoulders hunch as he stuffs his fingertips into his mouth, gnawing at his nails. As he wrestles with the unremitting memories, he does not make a sound.
Mr Coombes is in another place. One shrouded in darkness and shadow. One where he, holding only his police officer’s truncheon and a short shield, is surrounded by a baying mob brandishing knives, machetes, blow torches and petrol bombs. His attackers are faceless, he sees only a swirling mass of balaclava-clad heads, their slits revealing hate-filled eyes and snarling mouths yelling: “Kill the pigs, kill the pigs.”
Before him, curled on the ground and spurting blood, lies a fellow constable. The writhing body is surrounded by the mob, battering and kicking and stabbing: reducing him to bloodied pulp. He sees one man raise a machete. He runs forward. Mr Coombes’s eyes snap open. “It is vivid, unrelenting, always the same,” he says wearily. “Every single day, for nearly 20 years it has been there.”
In 2012, the news appeared about a possible prosecution. A few years back, acting on a tip from a new witness, police dug up a back garden at a house near the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham. They found a rusting machete. It could be the murder weapon. I hope to hear more about the forensic test results.
I will be following this trial with great interest. Feel free to leave me links to local newspaper articles!