A key witness to the murderous attack on PC Keith Blakelock nearly 30 years ago denied “fitting up” his suspected killer to obtain thousands of pounds in reward money, a court has heard.
The witness, known only as "John Brown", told the Old Bailey that he had seen Nicky Jacobs, 45, stabbing PC Blakelock with a machete up to four times during a free-for-all during riots at the Broadwater Farm Estate in 1985.
Mr Brown told the court that he had kicked the stricken officer ten times in the ribs during the attack. But in an unusual move he was given immunity against prosecution for murder in 1993 so that he could give evidence against the “stabbers” involved in the attack.
Mr Brown told the jury of seven men and five women that he was given £5,000 by police and his rent was paid for a month during the series of investigations into the murder.
The witness, who was jailed for three-and-a-half years for his role in the riots, was accused of “putting his head together” with another witness to implicate Mr Jacobs in the killing of the officer. The court heard yesterday that the other two key witnesses for the prosecution were a former friend who had been given the pseudonym "Rhodes Levin", and Mr Brown’s cousin, who is known only as "Q".
He named Nicky Jacobs because he was young, posed no threat to the witness and believed, wrongly, that he had been charged with murder, said Courtenay Griffiths QC, counsel for the defence.
“I’m going to suggest to you that you and Rhodes Levin put your heads together to fit up Nicky Jacobs and you did it for the money,” said Mr Griffiths.
“That’s absolute rubbish," Mr Brown said.
Mr Brown said he did not recall a conversation with police in 1993 when they told him that they needed at least three or four witnesses for a realistic prospect of conviction.
“You put your cousin Q up to make a statement in 2009 in order to get the reward,” Mr Griffiths told Mr Brown.
“I completely disagree,” he replied.
Mr Brown recounted how PC Blakelock was surrounded and attacked by some 10 to 15 people chanting “kill the beast, kill the Babylon… get his fucking head on a pole”.
He said the officer was dragged to the ground and attacked. “I saw he [Blakelock] tried to curl up into a ball I suppose to protect himself somehow,” he told the jury as the officer’s widow Elizabeth listened inside the court. “I heard just screams of help, help me.”
He said he saw Mr Jacobs use a machete, stabbing up and down the body with the blade. He said he later saw a gash on the officer’s neck.
The court has heard that the officer who was surrounded and nearly decapitated by an “inner circle” of rioters. PC Blakelock was stabbed some 40 times as he lost contact with an 11-strong team of officers who went on to the estate to protect firefighters dousing flames during the riot.
Mr Brown, who was aged about 20 at the time of the murder and was a member of the Park Lane Crew gang, accepted that he later claimed to have been carrying a scaffold pole. But he said he said that to “big himself up” and “get a bit of a rep[utation] in the area so people left you alone.”
He gave evidence against Mr Jacobs in 1986 over the riot but accepted that he did not mention his allege role in the murder at that stage, he said. “There was a lot of worry about,” the court heard.
Mr Brown, whose voice was distorted to preserve his identity, gave evidence from behind a black curtain so he could not be seen from the public gallery. The court heard that he had been interviewed as a suspect for the attack in January 1986. He was cautioned for assaulting his partner in 2010, the court heard.
Three people were convicted of murder in 1987 but their convictions were quashed in 1991 after scientific analysis of their interview notes cast doubt over the case.
Mr Jacobs, who was 16 at the time of the attack, denies murder.
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