Officers attacked with power tools win South West Bravery Award

14 July 2016

Four Devon and Cornwall police officers, who were violently attacked, using themselves as body shields to protect their colleague from further injuries, have been named as the Region 6 (South West) winners at the national Police Bravery Awards.

Acting Sergeant John Dingle and PCs Ryan Hayhurst, Jonathan Lonsdale and Rebecca Sutton-Scott-Tucker, were tonight named as regional winners at the 21st Police Bravery Awards in London. The awards, sponsored by Police Mutual, honour and recognise police officers who perform outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.

Responding to a call for help from a member of the public in relation to a disturbance at an address in Kingsbridge, PCs Hayhurst and Lonsdale identified a suspect and attempted to talk to him through the entrance of the ground floor flat. They were unaware that a trap had been laid in the flat.

On being invited in, the offender tried to isolate PC Hayhurst by slamming the door on PC Lonsdale. Fearing for his colleague, PC Lonsdale managed to block the door with his foot.  Both officers were then confronted by the offender with a powered angle grinder and subjected to a violent attack. PC Lonsdale received a serious cut to his left arm causing an arterial bleed and became unconscious due to his injuries.

When backup arrived, A/Sgt Dingle forced his way into the lounge of the property and helped PC Hayhurst to escape. Finding PC Lonsdale unconscious, PC Sutton-Scott-Tucker was unable to lift him and push him into a gap under the stairs, giving him first aid and shielded him with her own body to prevent further attacks.

Although injured, PC Hayhurst returned to the flat to help, knowing the offender was still in the building, and dragged PC Lonsdale to safety. Other officers arrived to cordon off the area and the offender was arrested.

A/Sgt Dingle, PC Lonsdale, PC Hayhurst and PC Sutton-Scott-Tucker were all awarded a Chief Constable's Commendation following the incident and have also been awarded the Royal Humane Society Certificate on Vellum.

After receiving the award from Gavin Thomas, President of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, PC Ryan Hayhurst said: "What started off as a run of the mill job turned out to be our worst nightmare. It's been a fantastic day and it's very humbling listening to the other stories. It puts it all into context but it's brilliant that we won."

Nigel Rabbitts, Chairman of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “This was an extremely challenging situation, and the officers were in the face of extreme danger and violence. This courageous act required the officers to put the safety of other’s ahead of their own, and they should be commended and recognised for the bravery of their actions. Without the timely intervention of all his colleagues, especially PC Sutton-Scott-Tucker, then PC Londsale’s injuries would have been fatal.”

Shaun Sawyer, Chief Constable Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “The officers responded on that day to the best values of British policing – the sense of legitimacy and policing by consent – to keep them and their community safe.

“As it became more of an attack on them, the sense of family and camaraderie came together in extreme acts of courage and bravery.  Quite literally to lay one’s life on the line for the public and for one’s colleagues is what makes British policing the best in the world.”

Stephen Mann, CEO of Police Mutual, said: “Congratulations to all of the brave nominees this year. We are proud to continue our support for such an inspirational event in the Policing calendar and to be able to show our respect for the exceptional courage shown by Police Officers who risk their lives every day to protect the public.”