THE man cleared of murdering North East police officer, Pc Keith Blakelock, during the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots, was released from prison yesterday.
Nicky Jacobs was driven from Belmarsh prison in south-east London after administrative delays had prevented him walking free after Wednesday’s verdict at the Old Bailey.
His lawyer, Tony Meisels, said his client was “relieved” to be free after a four-year ordeal, and offered his sympathies to Pc Blakelock’s widow, Elizabeth Johnson, who lives in West Boldon.
He said: “Our thoughts are with Pc Blakelock’s widow and her children. Obviously, they have not seen justice, and have been dragged through the process as much as Mr Jacobs has.
“Questions need to be asked at the very highest levels of the Crown Prosecution Service, and the police as to why this prosecution was ever brought.”
The officer was attacked by an armed mob after his unit was deployed to protect firefighters tackling a blaze on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, north London, on the night of October 6, 1985.
Jacobs, who was 16 at the time of the riots, was the seventh person to be charged with the officer’s murder but no one has been brought to justice for the killing.
Supporters said he was kept in custody on Wednesday night because the administrative offices at Belmarsh jail had closed by the time the verdict was handed down.
The Crown Prosecution Service said that, while it accepted the verdict, ‘’it was right’’ to bring the case against Jacobs.
Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley vowed: ‘’We will not give up on bringing Keith’s killers to justice.’’
He said: “Sadly, Keith’s widow, family and friends still have not seen anyone brought to justice for his murder.
“The dignity, extraordinary patience and courage they have shown in their nearly 30 year quest for justice is humbling.’’
Jacobs’ prosecution followed an earlier trial in 1987, when three men were convicted of the murder but later freed on appeal. The case against three youths was dropped.
Mr Meisels criticised the police’s use of evidence from “kickers” in the trial – witnesses who admitted being involved in the attack on Pc Blakelock, but not using weapons.
They were given immunity if they testified.
The lawyer said. “I have not come across a case before where the Crown relied upon evidence from two people who, by their own admissions, are guilty and complicit in murder.
“We know about the ‘joint enterprise’ rules. Normally, they would have been standing there in the dock with my client.
“So desperate were the police to secure a conviction that they went to great lengths to alter the rules so they could proceed with the case.”