PC Keith Blakelock colleague relives 'terrifying' riot

Court sketch of PC Blakelock murder trial Sgt David Pengelly describes the "terrifying" attack as defendant Nicholas Jacobs (second left) listens

Related Stories

The sergeant in charge of PC Keith Blakelock's unit has told the Old Bailey of the "absolutely terrifying" moment they were attacked by a mob.

David Pengelly said his team of 10 officers were attacked by youths armed with iron bars and a machete.

Nicholas Jacobs, 45, denies murdering PC Blakelock during the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham in 1985.

The court had earlier been told that a rap written by the defendant about the attack, was found in his jail cell.

Richard Whittam, prosecuting, said the poem, found when Mr Jacobs was serving a prison sentence for affray at a youth custody centre in 1988, included phrases such "we have intention to kill an police officer" and "we chop him all over".

PC Keith Blakelock PC Keith Blakelock was stabbed 43 times, the Old Bailey was told
Aerial view of the Broadwater Farm Estate The trouble began at around 18:45 GMT on 6 October 1985

The court heard that Mr Pengelly and his team, serial 502, were trying to protect firefighters tackling a blaze at a supermarket on an upper deck of the estate.

He said his team were not "shield trained" at the time, but had kitted themselves out in fire-protective boiler suits, visors and long and round shields before going to the scene, which he described as one of "considerable rioting".

Police investigations

  • The first was held after the murder where three men were found guilty
  • Their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991
  • In 1992-93, a second investigation was launched, but police struggled to get witness accounts because people did not want to make themselves liable to prosecution
  • The police and CPS decided to pursue those they believed had weapons as suspects and regard unarmed attackers who punched and kicked as witnesses
  • The case was reopened in 2000 following a review of unsolved murders

Mr Pengelly said he saw some youths were beginning to gather so he raised his visor to shout at the crowd that they were just there to "protect the firemen".

He said: "There was something perhaps of a dramatic pause. I do not know the reason.

"Then another group appeared slightly to the right from an unknown point to me."

Some of the youths then started to run around to "effectively outflank us and cut off our retreat", he said.

The officer told the jury that at that point he gave the order to retreat down the stairs to the ground level.

"Obviously at this point, the rioters were right with us hammering on the shields. It was an absolutely terrifying scenario.

"As we retreated down the stairway there were people with iron bars and at least one with a machete, effectively trying to chop the shields to bits.

"The retreat to ground level was just a continuing nightmare."

Broadwater Estate The police were trying to protect firefighters who were putting out a fire in Centra Supermarket (bottom left)
Broadwater estate stairwell Officers were attacked as they made their way down the stairwell

At the mid-point, Mr Pengelly said he almost immediately "lost track" of where the other officers were because it was dark.

Start Quote

At this time we were fighting for our lives really”

End Quote David Pengelly Sergeant

He added that he saw a group of people in a "cluster or circle" at the grass verge on the ground level, facing inwards and attacking someone.

At first he thought it was one of the firefighters, he told jurors.

"I ran across shouting and once I reached the group that was still facing inwards, I was trying to hit somebody across the head with my truncheon on the left hand side, then I lashed out and hit somebody else on my right hand side and at that time the group sort of broke up and dissolved."

He then realised that the man who had been surrounded was one of his officers, he told the court.

"At this time we were fighting for our lives really. There was no time to do anything else, having scattered that group, than to turn and fend off other people from the main direction from which they had been running," he said.

Nicholas Jacobs and the police investigation Nicholas Jacobs was arrested following a renewed police investigation
Machete

Mr Pengelly said he did try to make his way towards where the attack was taking place, but could not do it on his own.

"Very quickly I was joined by two other officers so I was able to try and fend off other rioters whilst they dragged my colleague away."

He then lost his footing as he was "going backwards, trying to fight people off but there were possibly hundreds running around".

"I had already seen someone with a machete and I knew that if I didn't get up quickly, I wouldn't be getting up again."

When asked under cross-examination if his perception was affected by his fear for his life, Mr Pengelly said: "Terrified, I think was the correct description."

PC Blakelock's family PC Blakelock's sons (left-right) Lee, Kevin and Mark, have attended the trial with their mother Elizabeth Johnson

Another officer caught up in the violence, PC Stephen Martin, also gave evidence.

He described Mr Pengelly's attempt to appease the rioters before the officers tried to retreat.

On ground level, Mr Martin saw two different groups attacking PC Blakelock and another officer, PC Richard Coombes.

"They too had implements in their hands which they would raise up and bring down and I knew what was happening," he said.

The trial continues.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

24 °C 15 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    News on the hour 11:00:

    The top story at 11:00: Detectives investigating the disappearance of west London teenager Alice Gross say they've had a "great response" from the public, but still no confirmed sightings after she was last seen on CCTV.

     
  2.  
    Coca-Cola takes on London Eye 10:54:

    It has been revealed that Coca-Cola is to become the new sponsor of the London Eye from January.

    London Eye
     
  3.  
    Injury doubts for Arsenal 10:46:

    Arsenal have injury problems in defence as they begin their Champions League campaign away to Borussia Dortmund tonight.

    Arsene Wenger

    Right-back Mathieu Debuchy and left-back Nacho Monreal are out, while new signing Calum Chambers is a doubt.

     
  4.  
    Car collides with train 10:36:

    A woman has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving after her car went through a level crossing barrier at Datchet, Berkshire, at 06:05 and collided with a train.

    Datchet level crossing

    British Transport Police said the 67 year old's Volkswagen Golf collided with a train travelling from Clapham to Windsor and Eton Riverside Station.

    She escaped injury.

    The crash has caused travel disruption to services.

     
  5.  
    Alice Gross rucksack 'seen' 10:26:

    Police investigating the disappearance of Alice Gross say a couple have come forward with a new sighting of Alice's rucksack.

    Image of Alice's bag

    A Crimewatch appeal for more information about the 14 year old girl, from Hanwell, will be made tonight.

    Alice was last seen on 28 August.

     
  6.  
    Death row meals 10:21:

    A pop-up restaurant inspired by the last meal requests of people on death row is coming to Hackney, Dalstonist reports.

    The restaurant, which will be open for a month until the end of November, will be located on Hoxton Square.

     
  7.  
    Greenwich regeneration 10:11:

    Plans to build 10,000 new homes on the Greenwich Peninsula will go on display this week.

    O2 development

    The scheme, which would be the UK's largest new development, involves 160 acres of land near the O2 and would take up to 25 years to complete.

     
  8.  
    News on the hour 10:00:

    The lead headline at 10:00: A woman is in a critical condition in hospital after a suspected hit and run involving a stolen car that was being chased by police in Highgate.

     
  9.  
    Rail disruption 09:46: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    Buses are replacing trains on South West services between Windsor & Eton Riverside and Staines-upon-Thames because of a level crossing incident.

    For travel updates on twitter, follow @BBCTravelAlert

     
  10.  
    Shooting arrest 09:36:

    Detectives investigating the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old man in Battersea have arrested a second man on suspicion of murder.

    Sebastian Jamal Hyman-Knight

    Sebastian Hyman-Knight was shot in the head in Tennyson Street on Thursday night. Police say they are keeping an open mind about the motive.

     
  11.  
    W1A returns 09:27: Beth Rose BBC News Online

    I may have ended up on the extras cutting room floor in the first series, but Hugh Bonneville is to reprise his role as Ian Fletcher in BBC mockumentary W1A for a second series next year.

    W1A

    Based on the real workings of the newsroom, hundreds of BBC journalists offered to be extras and pretend to work away at their computers. If you were lucky enough to be "given direction" as I was, you could reach the heady heights of having to walk between two desks.

    In the new show, Fletcher will have the additional challenge of having to deal with the issue of the BBC's charter renewal, which is due in 2016.

     
  12.  
    Changing visibility 09:16:

    The RNLI's Matt Leat tweets: Since starting work today the visibility has reduced just a bit #fog #thamesbarrier

    Thames barrier
     
  13.  
    Suspected hit and run 09:10:

    A woman is in a critical condition in hospital after a suspected hit and run involving a stolen car that was being chased by police in Highgate.

     
  14.  
    On air 09:03: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    London's mental health services are struggling to cope with the demand for psychological therapies, according to new research by the We Need to Talk coalition.

    It found that nearly a quarter of Londoners needing therapy have been waiting for more than six months.

    What is your experience? You can listen live to BBC London 94.9 and contact the team on 020 7224 2000.

     
  15.  
    Top headlines
     
  16.  
    Airport disruption 08:52:

    Heavy fog has caused dozens of flights to be delayed or cancelled at London City Airport.

    Eurocontrol, which co-ordinates air traffic control across Europe, said there could be delays of up to 160 minutes.

     
  17.  
    Contactless payments on Tube 08:42:

    Contactless bank cards are being introduced across London's Tube, DLR and Overground train networks.

    contactless card

    From this morning, people can use their bank cards instead of having to top up Oyster Cards, although these will still be accepted.

     
  18.  
    UCH to get Sutton money 08:32:

    University College Hospital is set to benefit from a share of the almost £5m raised by cancer sufferer Stephen Sutton in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

    Stephen Sutton

    The trust said the hospital's 18-bed unit was in "desperate need" of refurbishment and a £168,000 donation would be added to £192,000 already raised by other supporters to enable improvements to be made.

     
  19.  
    No Woolwich ferry 08:23:

    TfL River tweets: No service on the Woolwich Ferry due to adverse weather conditions.

     
  20.  
    Hull 2 - 2 West Ham 08:15:

    West Ham produced a spirited fightback to twice come from behind and deny Hull City victory at the KC Stadium.

    Hull v West Ham

    Abel Hernandez, a club record £10m buy, gave Hull the lead before Enner Valencia equalised with a spectacular 25-yard strike.

    Mo Diame restored Hull's lead against his old club, only for Curtis Davies to divert Diafra Sakho's shot into his own net.

     
  21.  
    Fog flights disruption 08:06: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    There is disruption to flights to and from City Airport because of the fog.

    For more travel updates, visit BBC London's travel website.

     
  22.  
    08:01: Beth Rose BBC News Online

    Good morning. I'll be bringing you all the latest news, sport, travel and weather from London today for BBC Local Live.

    You can send your news, pictures and comments to london.locallive@bbc.co.uk.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.