DNA evidence could finally bring the killers of PC Keith Blakelock to justice, 27 years after the policeman was murdered during the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham.
Reports yesterday claimed Scotland Yard were just weeks away from bringing charges against a man who was under 18 at the time of the murder. Two QCs agreed there is a "realistic prospect of prosecution", a key test for the Crown Prosecution Service, the Sunday Telegraph claimed.
Last night the Metropolitan Police denied charges were imminent but confirmed modern scientific techniques had been used to analyse DNA evidence from PC Blakelock's flame-retardant overalls and more than a dozen murder weapons as part of an ongoing cold case review of the crime.
Five men aged between 40 and 51 were arrested in 2010 and are still on police bail.
PC Blakelock, a 40-year-old father of three, was attacked as he tried to protect firefighters who were tackling a supermarket blaze at the height of the riot on the Broadwater Farm estate in October 1985. After stumbling he was surrounded by a mob screaming: "Kill the pig."
He was stabbed more than 40 times with different weapons, including a machete, and when he was finally dragged free by colleagues a kitchen knife was still embedded in his throat.
Winston Silcott, Mark Braithwaite and Engin Raghip were convicted in March 1987 of his murder but all three convictions were quashed four and a half years later after forensic tests on pages of key interview records suggested they had been fabricated. Silcott accepted £50,000 compensation from the Home Office but remained in prison for an unrelated murder and was released in 2003. None of the three men originally convicted is the suspect in the new case.
In 2003, Scotland Yard reopened the murder investigation after a review indicated there were possible new lines of inquiry. Fourteen men were arrested in 2010 on suspicion of involvement in PC Blakelock's murder or the attempted murder of PC Richard Coombes, who was also viciously attacked during the riot.
Since then nine of the men have been released without charge. The other five are still on police bail.
Three men were convicted of killing PC Blakelock including Winston Silcott, who was paid £50,000 in compensation after his conviction was quashed. The new evidence does not relate to the trio.