The Trial of 'The Tottenham Six.'
Central Criminal Court in London
The trial of these six persons was held in the Central Criminal Court in London, which is generally known famously as ‘The Old Bailey’ between January and March 1987. The hearing was held in Court number 2 and commenced on the 14th January and lasted a total of 44 days.
A total of forty-nine man and youths were convicted of various offences arising from the riots, out of 359 people who had been arrested. Out of that number a total of 159 were charged, this does not include the ‘Tottenham ix defendants. All the men and youths who were appearing at this time were charged with murder, rioting and affray. However, Mark Lambie was also charged with throwing petrol bombs at the police.
Jury were sworn in and consisted of 7 men and 5 women, this number included one Afro-Caribbean woman. Thy were not told that Winston Silcott had been out on bail for the murder of Anthony Smith when Blakelock was murdered, or that he had subsequently ben convicted of that murder. Silcott’s barrister, Barbara Mills (1940 – 2011), a future ‘Director of Public Prosecutions.’ Decided that he should not take the stand in case it left him open to questioning about the previous convictions. The effort to avoid introducing these previous conviction meant the Jury could not be told that Silcott had signed on for his bail, which related to the Smith murder charge – at Tottenham Police Station at around 7pm on the evening of Constable Blakelock’s death. This is when witnesses had supposedly placed him at a Broadwater Youth Association meeting, there he was making inflammatory speeches against the police.
The huge press coverage of the trial included on day 2, a photograph in Sun Newspaper of a notoriously violent-looking of Winston Silcott. One that ‘created a monster to stalk the nightmares of Middle England,’ as journalist Kurt Barling had put it. Silcott said that he had been asleep in a police cell when it was taken; he went on to say that he was woken up, then held in a corridor with his arms pinned against a wall and photographed, and the expression on his face was one of fear and certainly not violence. The publication of this photograph constituted ‘gross contempt, ‘according to the trial judge, Sir Derek Hodgson (1917 – 2002) when he was speaking about the trial in 1992. However, no action was taken against the Sun Newspaper.
The charges against the Youths were dismissed by the Judge because they had been detained without access to their parents or a lawyer. Four armoured police vehicles waited in Tottenham as the Jury deliberated for a total of 3 days. On the 19th March the Jury returned to the courtroom with a unanimous guilty verdict against three of the defendants, namely Winston Silcott, Engin Raghip and Mark Braithwaite.
The Judge sentenced them to ‘Life Imprisonment,’ with a recommendation that Silcott serve at least 30 years. The black female member of the Jury fainted at hearing this sentence. It was then, after the sentence had been given by the Judge that the newspapers really went to town in their reports, they wrote about ‘The Beasts of Broadwater Farm,’ ‘the Hooded Animals and ‘Packs of Savages.’ With the old jail cell image of Winston Silcott published above captions such as ‘Smile of Evil.’ In 1988 an application for leave to appeal was rejected.