Mark Braithwaite



Keith Henry Blakelock, a London Metropolitan Police constable, was murdered on 6 October 1985 in the Broadwater Farm riot at the housing estate in Tottenham, north London. The incident developed after a local black woman died of heart failure during a police search of her home. It took place against a backdrop of unrest in several English cities and a breakdown of relations between the police and black communities. PC Blakelock had been assigned on the night of his death to Serial 502, a unit of 10 constables and one sergeant dispatched to protect firefighters. When the rioters forced the officers back, Blakelock stumbled and fell. Surrounded by a mob of 30–50 people, he received over 40 injuries inflicted by machetes or similar, and was found with a six-inch-long knife in his neck, buried up to the hilt. He was the first constable to be killed in a riot in Britain since 1833, when PC Robert Culley was stabbed to death in Clerkenwell, London. Detectives came under enormous pressure to find those responsible for his death, amid tabloid coverage that was sometimes openly racist. Faced with a lack of forensic evidence, the police arrested 359 people, interviewed most of them without solicitors, and laid charges based on untaped confessions. Three adults and three youths were charged with the murder; the adults, Winston Silcott, Engin Raghip and Mark Braithwaite (the "Tottenham Three"), were convicted in 1987. A widely supported campaign arose to overturn the convictions, which were quashed in 1991 when forensic tests cast doubt on the authenticity of detectives' notes from an interview in which Silcott appeared to incriminate himself. Two detectives were charged in 1992 with perverting the course of justice and were acquitted in 1994. Police re-opened the murder inquiry in 1992 and again in 2003. Ten men were arrested in 2010 on suspicion of murder, and in 2013 one of them, Nicholas Jacobs, became the seventh person to be charged with Blakelock's murder, based largely on evidence gathered during the 1992 inquiry. He was found not guilty in April 2014. Blakelock and the other constables of Serial 502 were awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for bravery in 1988. Their sergeant, David Pengelly, who—armed only with a shield and truncheon—placed himself in front of the crowd in an effort to save Blakelock and another officer, received the George Medal, awarded for acts of great bravery.

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