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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Terror raid that ended in tragedy
By Paul Burnell
BBC News in Manchester

The flat in Crumpsall
Police raided a flat in Crumpsall Lane
Tough lessons have been learned by police from the anti-terror raid which cost the life of Detective Constable Stephen Oake in Manchester on 14 January 2003.

But for Assistant Chief Constable David Whatton of Greater Manchester Police only one thing matters: "One person committed murder that day - Kamel Bourgass who is now serving life for that."

Bourgass, 29, was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2004 with a tariff of 20 years and six months for murdering DC Oake, 40, at a flat in Crumpsall, a suburb of Manchester.

But blanket reporting restrictions were placed as he was one of nine men accused of terror offences in connection with the discovery of the raw materials to make ricin in a raid on a flat in Wood Green, north London.

The restrictions were lifted on Wednesday after the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to go ahead with a second ricin trial, due to start next week.

Four of the accused were cleared last Friday while Bourgass was convicted on one count of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on a charge against Bourgass of conspiracy to commit murder.

DC Oake's death cast a shadow over the raid in Crumpsall, which had begun well with the apprehension of another man police had been seeking.

Special Branch officers and Immigration Service officials arrived at the cramped flat in bedsitland to arrest the second man following a tip-off from MI5.

DC Stephen Oake
The death of Stephen Oake was the first example of the type of new danger facing British officers
Assistant Chief Constable David Whatton

Bourgass - who was one of three men arrested that night - claimed to be a Tunisian asylum seeker but was discovered to be a man also known as Nadir Habra wanted for questioning over the earlier ricin raid.

He was arrested at 1655 GMT and kept in the bedroom with the third man, guarded by PC Nigel Fleming and DC Oake, while two other officers kept watch on the second man in the lounge.

The Old Bailey trial heard that Special Branch had been advised by MI5 that north Africans tended to be passive when arrested.

But after being held for an hour Bourgass became agitated and punched PC Fleming in the groin before grabbing a six-inch knife from the nearby kitchen.

In minutes he stabbed and slashed four officers.

DC Oake, who was not wearing his stabproof jacket, was stabbed repeatedly during the struggle, suffering eight wounds including one in each lung.

ACC Whatton said the father-of-three and devout Christian, who died at the scene, was a brave man who gave his life for his colleagues.

No action was taken against an officer who admitted at a disciplinary hearing that he had made mistakes in the planning of the operation.

Kamal Bourgass
Bourgass stabbed DC Oake repeatedly

But ACC Whatton said "significant changes" had been made in the force's anti-terror operations since the Tonbridge Report, an external inquiry carried out by officers from other forces which identified failures in the operation.

All officers, including plain clothes, wear body armour; armed police from the tactical aid unit make sure premises and suspects are secure before any detailed searches take place; and all officers are better briefed.

The force's Chief Constable Michael Todd is also calling for all people arrested to be handcuffed - currently officers can be sued for wrongly handcuffing a person.

ACC Whatton said dealing with the new breed of Islamic militants since the 11 September attacks was extremely dangerous for police.

"The death of Stephen Oake was the first example of the type of new danger facing British officers," he said.

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18 Jun 03 |  Manchester
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15 Jan 03 |  Politics

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