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article imageOp-Ed: Keith Blakelock — Can justice be done this time?

By Alexander Baron     Aug 21, 2012 in Crime
London - The recent announcement that a new suspect is to be charged with the murder of Keith Blakelock gives cause for concern, or if it doesn't, it should.
The pretext for the riot that led to the death of PC Keith Blakelock in October 1985 was similar to the one that led to the riots of last August. In the latter case, unarmed Mark Duggan was shot dead by a police officer. In the former, a woman died in tragic circumstances of what were undoubtedly natural causes, albeit in a stressful situation. The only thing Mark Duggan and Mrs Cynthia Jarrett had in common is that they were black. Had either or both of them been white, no riot would have resulted. There must be a lesson there, but it isn't necessarily one the authorities would want us to learn.
At the time of his conviction, Winston Silcott seemed to those not in the know to have been caught bang to rights. By the time of the Blakelock murder trial he had already been convicted of the murder of Anthony Smith, and he certainly looked the part. It would eventually become clear though not simply that he could not have murdered PC Blakelock but that the police must have known that when they put him in the frame. Then there was the little matter of the unsigned confession that was proved by an ESDA test to have been fabricated after the event.
This time though, we are told there is forensic evidence against the new suspect. Oh, that's all right then.
There can be problems with forensic evidence; it is widely believed that fingerprinting is infallible; it is not. There have been cases in which two entirely different people have been found to have the same fingerprints. The case of the Scottish detective Shirlie McKie is one of a handful of little known scandals relating to fingerprint evidence. The reason for this is that fingerprinting is not science but art.
Likewise DNA profiling is not a science, rather it is an art that has been dressed up by clever propaganda and presented to the public as magic.
If a perpetrator leaves his fingerprints all over a crime scene, or masses of DNA, perhaps he cuts himself breaking a window and leaves a fair amount of blood, then there should be no problem. In this case though, and in many similar, historical cases, the quantity of DNA evidence is likely to be tiny, at best. And that is with the best will in the world, which is not likely to be the case here. The bottom line is that the police have already framed three innocent men for this murder. Although Silcott's co-defendants were not the brightest of men and could conceivably have been guilty, there was no way he could have been.
The big question is why should a jury or anyone give any credit to new evidence adduced in this case, forensic or otherwise? In January this year, a jury convicted two of the original suspects in the 1993 Stephen Lawrence case of his murder, those convictions were based entirely on supposedly new forensic evidence which neither defence counsel had the temerity or even the courage to challenge. This is far from the first such case; the death of Damilola Taylor resulted first in the acquittal of four youths accused of his murder, then after supposedly new forensic evidence came to light there was a trial and then a retrial. In the first trial, three youths were accused of Damilola's manslaughter; the retrial was of two of them only - brothers - and they were convicted. At the time of Damilola's death they were 12 and 13 years old respectively.
The so-called new evidence was anything but new, rather it was said to be bloodstains and fibres found during the second investigation and missed by the laboratory staff during the first investigation.
Now, transfer that to the Blakelock case. How can we be sure that any of this new forensic evidence has not been manufactured in the same way as Winston Silcott's unsigned confession? With that shadow hanging over the case, there must always be a genuine suspicion that this is more of the same. What new evidence could in any case be deemed reliable after this passage of time? Even a confession - or more likely a boast - would in reality carry very little weight.
Painful though it may be, this is one the police should let go, though it is doubtful if either they or the CPS will, but if at the end of the day they end up having sand kicked in their faces, they will have only themselves to blame. The taint of suspicion and corruption that must inevitably hang over this case is entirely down to them.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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