Firefighter tells how brave Pc saved his life in riot

NICHOLAS JACOBS ... a court artist's impression of the defendant, who denies murdering Pc Keith Blakelock.

NICHOLAS JACOBS ... a court artist's impression of the defendant, who denies murdering Pc Keith Blakelock.

ONE of the firefighters who Pc Keith Blakelock gave his life up to protect has told a murder trial how the officer was attacked by at least 20 rioters.

The disturbances, on the night of October 6 1985, saw a group of officers trying to protect firefighters come under attack by a mob of around 150 youths on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham.

The trial of Nicky Jacobs, 45, who denies the murder of Pc Blakelock, heard evidence from one of the firefighters who came under attack.

He said the noise made by the mob was “equivalent to someone scoring a goal at a football match”.

Assistant divisional officer Trevor Stratford told the jury that he was assisted by Pc Blakelock as they tried to make their escape.

As they made their way out of the building where firefighters had been tackling a blaze, they were blocked by protesters with their faces covered.

“This is a living memory for me,” he said.

“The first thing that came to mind was ‘they are going to cut us off’ because of the numbers involved.”

Mr Stratford said that one officer screamed for the firefighters to “get the hell out of there” as between 50 and 80 rioters “charged around”.

Struck several times, Mr Stratford at one point turned and saw that Pc Blakelock had fallen to the ground.

He told the court he wanted to go back but then witnessed how the police officer was “enveloped” by a group of eight or nine rioters.

Then he realised that two other officers appeared to be under attack.

One of them was Pc Coombes, but he was dragged out of the crowds by colleagues.

Ordering his staff to take Pc Coombes away in a fire engine with blue lights flashing to hospital, Mr Stratford then saw around 20 to 25 people had “focused on” Pc Blakelock, stabbing and kicking him.

“They were pushing each other out of the way to get into the centre of the group,” the court heard.

Asked if he could remember any weapons being used, the witness said he saw “what appeared to be something like a sword”.

As the crowd began to disperse back into the building, the firefighter said he ran back to where Pc Blakelock had fallen and “slipped” his way into a group that was still attacking him.

With some difficulty he and another police officer managed to drag the wounded officer away.

“I was conscious of him having a knife embedded up to the handle underneath his ear and injuries to his neck,” he said.

He tried to give the wounded man first aid, but said “it was like trying to do cardiac compression on a pillow, there was no bone structure there and so I shouted for an ambulance”.

The court heard that in a statement he made in November 1985, Mr Stratford told police he had seen “axe-like weapons” during the attack on Pc Blakelock.

The witness said he stood by a further statement made to police in 2007 in which he went further to say he saw “a baseball bat, a sword and scythe-like instrument”.

Cross-examining him, defence barrister Courtenay Griffiths QC asked why it had taken him until 2007 to remember the scythe.

“It’s an omission on my part,” Mr Stratford replied.

Later Mr Griffiths asked: “Would you agree that your recollection would be better back then (in 1985) than it is 28 years later?”

“In part, yes,” Mr Stratford answered.

Mr Griffiths also asked if the only weapon that the witness had referred to in a statement made two days after the riots was “a knife embedded in Pc Blakelock’s neck”.

Mr Stratford replied: “Yes.”

The case was adjourned to tomorrow at 10am.


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