The prosecution of a man 28 years after the murder of Pc Keith Blakelock is a "bleak and dismal" story, jurors were told today.
Nicky Jacobs, 45, has lived with a shadow cast over his life ever since the mob attack on Pc Blakelockin Tottenham, north London, in October 1985.
His lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths QC, launched an attack on the decision to charge his client years after the evidence against him was gathered, describing it as "deplorable".
He told the Old Bailey jury: "If the evidence really suggested this man, Nicky Jacobs, has a case to answer, I have to repeat the question - Why has it taken so long to bring it?
"Do the prosecution really believe in the case they have brought? Otherwise, why take so long because, to our minds, there are a great deal of deplorable aspects of this case but the most deplorable thing is the fact that you have now been asked to achieve the result not achieved in 1987 because of police malice and corruption.
"You are being asked, 28 years after the event, to bring closure to this disgraceful episode. This is, to our mind, a bleak and dismal story."
The court has heard of years of police investigations after the convictions of three men in 1987 were quashed.
And the bulk of evidence given during Jacobs' trial had been known to police for years, Mr Griffiths said.
He went on: "Racism was then the narrative in which the alien nature of those involved (in the attack) became the explanation for their savagery."
He described the three key witnesses who gave evidence in Jacobs' trial as "vulnerable" individuals.
He said the witness known as Rhodes Levin "is a drug addict"; John Brown "was beset by financial problems".
And of the last anonymous witness, Q, he said: "His appearance speaks for itself - how much more vulnerable can you get?"
He said their evidence was "bereft of coherence, riddled with lies, incoherent and contradictory".
On Jacobs' decision not to go into the witness box, he said: "Why should he answer?"
Mr Griffiths said Pc Blakelock's killing was the first murder of its kind since 1833.
He described the initial police investigation as a "witch hunt".
He said: "In my mind the investigation in 1985-86 had more in common with the witch hunt of the 17th century than an orthodox attempt to solve a murder."
Turning to the evidence in the case, he said police had known about the rap poem in which Jacobs allegedly described the murder since 1988.
By that time, they also had evidence he was on the Broadwater Estate the night of the riots.
By 1994, police had the witnesses John Brown and Rhodes Levin.
And by 2000, there were the comments Jacobs made to a police officer about the murder of Pc Blakelock, and still no charge.
Five years ago the witness Q came forward, Mr Griffiths said: "Why have we had to wait so long?"
He added: "Curiously, there being no additional evidence over the last five years, the decision is taken to charge."
He said: "It was flawed from the outset. The community that was already alienated from the law enforcement agency saw not bridges being built but a yawning abyss."