PC Keith Blakelock trial: Questions raised after Nicky Jacobs is cleared of murder

Still no justice for PC’s family after third inquiry into his killing at 1985 Broadwater Farm riots

Crime Correspondent

The Crown Prosecution Service has defended its decision to put a convicted rioter on trial for the killing of PC Keith Blakelock after the dead man’s family watched as a seventh man was cleared of one of the country’s most notorious unsolved murders.

Nicky Jacobs, 45, punched the air and wept after he was found not guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey following a controversial trial based in part on the evidence of men involved in the 1985 attack who had been granted immunity from prosecution. It means that after the third inquiry into the killing at the Broadwater Farm Estate, there is still no justice for the family of the dead officer. They said they were “extremely sad and disappointed” at the verdict.

Three people were jailed in 1987 for the murder but were later cleared after new scientific evidence revealed that crucial interview notes had been tampered with. Two of the men, Winston Silcott and Mark Braithwaite, were among the defendant’s supporters in the public gallery.

The officer’s widow, Elizabeth Johnson, sank back in her seat and appeared visibly shocked as a jury took  six hours to return not guilty verdicts. The trial was the culmination of a multi-million pound investigation that followed her personal plea for justice.

Read more: PC Blakelock trial: The long, troubled history of the Met's quest for justice

Police said that they knew the identity of about 20 people involved in the attack and appealed to other witnesses to come forward, saying that the case would not be closed.

“We are obviously extremely sad and disappointed at the verdict,”G said the family in a statement. ”We viewed this trial as an opportunity to see some form of justice served for Keith. There were many people involved in a murder on that night of 6 October 1985 and it is regretful that no-one has yet to be found guilty despite the number of people with knowledge of the events of that night.”

Jacobs, who is expected to be released from Belmarsh Prison tomorrow, received one of the longest jail sentences for affray in the immediate aftermath of the riot. But he was not charged with murder until last year, in part on the strength of three witness accounts. The prosecution also claimed that a rap poem about the killing found in his cell and comments made to a police officer 12 years later represented two apparent confessions.

Nicky Jacobs protesting his innocence prior to his arrest (Rex) Nicky Jacobs protesting his innocence prior to his arrest (Rex)
However, his legal team said that the evidence against him was based on a witness’s delusional fantasy, mistaken identity, and the prospect of payment for assisting police. Two of the witnesses were paid £5,000 in 1994 for their assistance, the court heard, but have not been paid in the latest inquiry.

Jenny Hopkins, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said the decision to charge Jacobs followed a review of three police inquiries over 20 years. “Following this review we concluded that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it was in the public interest to charge Nicholas Jacobs with the murder of PC Keith Blakelock.

“This evidence included three witnesses who the prosecution say gave their accounts independently of each other with no suggestion of collusion. It was right that all the evidence in this case was put before a jury and we respect its decision.”

Silcott, who was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering PC Blakelock in 1987 before his conviction was quashed in 1991, said the police had brought the case because they were “bitter about what happened” following his acquittal.

“My conclusion is that they had promised the Blakelock family that they would get justice for him and so they were trying to get anyone they could,” he told reporters outside the court.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits