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PC Blakelock murder: Police tell witnesses it’s ‘not too late to come forward’

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley. File picture: PA Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley. File picture: PA

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
4:25 PM

The Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner Mark Rowley has said it is “not too late” for witnesses to PC Keith Blakelock’s brutal murder to come forward, after Nicky Jacobs was this afternoon cleared of his killing by a jury.

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"There are people who know exactly who took part in the attack on Keith and people who took part themselves. It is not too late for you to come forward."

Met Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley

The Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner Mark Rowley has said it is “not too late” for witnesses to PC Keith Blakelock’s brutal murder to come forward, after Nicky Jacobs was this afternoon cleared of his killing by a jury.

Mr Rowley described the Muswell Hill beat bobby’s 1985 murder - in which an attempt was made to decapitate him - as “barbaric”, adding: “Regardless of the verdict, we never, ever close a case - we are still open to new information.”

During the trial, Scotland Yard was heavily criticised by Jacobs’ lawyer for the time it took to bring charges, and the evidence of the so-called “kickers” of PC Blakelock, who received payments in the past for their co-operation with the investigation.

But Det Supt John Sweeney, who has led the investigation for the past 14 years, said he had no regrets about the case and insisted: “No-one has been rewarded for this trial.”

PC Keith Blakelock: Murdered in the Broadwater Farm RiotsPC Keith Blakelock: Murdered in the Broadwater Farm Riots

In a statement released after Mr Jacobs was cleared of murdering the 40-year-old, Mr Rowley said: “We have worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service over many years to be in a position to put our evidence before a court. The investigation team pursued all the material, evidence and witnesses they could.”

He insisted it was “important we exhausted every possible lead we could”, pointing out: “It would be nice to have alternatives, witnesses of perfect character, but unfortunately you do not tend to get them at riots - the lovely old lady with a perfect memory out walking her dog. We have had to work with what we have got which is an investigative challenge.”

He also paid tribute to PC Blakelock’s widow, family and friends who “still have not seen anyone brought to justice for his murder”.

He added: “The dignity, extraordinary patience and courage they have shown in their nearly 30-year quest for justice is humbling.

“We will not give up on bringing Keith’s killers to justice. There are people who know exactly who took part in the attack on Keith and people who took part themselves. It is not too late for you to come forward. Almost 30 years on people’s lives are very different, their allegiances broken or shifted. Help us now.”

Mr Rowley said the three key prosecution witnesses were paid expenses - the men known as Rhodes Levin and John Brown received several thousand pounds in 1994 - but only after it seemed there was no prospect of a prosecution.

He said: “The decision was made at the time - people had put themselves at risk and were prepared to give evidence - it was felt to reward them at that point on the basis there was no foreseeable prosecution.

“The fact they feel strongly enough and wanted to give evidence still was their personal choice and was not linked to what they were paid at the time.”

A £100,000 reward promised by the News of the World also evaporated when the tabloid closed down in 2011, police said.

Police had to re-examine 74,294 documents, 14,127 exhibits and 17,765 names before they could even begin a fresh investigation in 2003. The total cost is thought to run into the tens of millions of pounds.

As a result, 20 suspects were identified as being at the murder scene and police asked the Crown Prosecution Service in 2005 to consider charges against six, including Jacobs.

Mr Rowley said the decision to charge Jacobs in 2013 was vindicated by the fact the judge Mr Justice Nicol agreed after legal discussions that a jury should be allowed to decide on the evidence.

Jenny Hopkins, deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said: “It was right that all the evidence in this case was put before a jury and we respect its decision.”

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