A Fantastic Four Lancashire Police officers who detained a violent domestic abuser despite having ammonia thrown at their faces have been nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.
PCs Stuart Garnett, Joshua Hegarty, Lee Richards and Sgt Andrew Gore – who received severe injuries in the attack – will join courageous colleagues from across England and Wales at the Awards in London.
The quartet responded to a call in the early hours of 16 April 2019 from a woman who said a man was trying to kill her.
The woman said she had been the victim of a domestic abuse assault in which the offender had held a knife to her throat and had threatened to slit it.
The man was suspected to be still inside the property and to still be in possession of the knife.
The officers arrived to find the premises in darkness, and once they had forced entry, they discovered the front door had been wedged shut with a chair in a bid to prevent anyone from getting in.
Knowing the man was inside the officers began the search for him. PC Garnett led the search downstairs with another officer while Sgt Gore and PC Richards took another team upstairs.
The offender suddenly appeared at the top of the stairs and threw a hazardous substance, quickly confirmed as ammonia, at the approaching officers. Sgt Gore took the full brunt of the assault to his face with PC Richards and the team also getting splashed with the acrid liquid.
The burning and overpowering odour forced the officers to retreat down the stairs. The attack had left Sgt Gore with severe injuries while by now the others were having trouble breathing and were in pain, meaning they had to leave the building.
However, determined to get the offender in custody, the officers bravely went back into the property after a short respite.
The violent offender then suddenly burst out of a first-floor window in a desperate bid to avoid capture. Realising he had to be detained for the safety of others, PCs Hegarty and Richards set off in pursuit, chasing him through several residential gardens before they wrestled him to the ground and made the arrest.
The officers later received treatment at hospital with Sgt Gore being left with serious long-term damage to his eye.
Paul Elliot, 46, admitted a charge of Section 18 wounding against Sgt Gore and two counts of throwing a noxious substance with intent in relation to two other officers. He’s serving a 14 years and six months sentence.
Lancashire Police Federation Chair Rachel Hanley said the officers could not be more deserving of their bravery nomination.
“They are all heroes,” she said. “The officers remained professional, calm and determined despite the abhorrent nature of this attack.
“Sgt Gore, PCs Garrett, Hegarty and Richards showed immense bravery and courage while dealing with an extremely violent and dangerous individual.
“Sgt Gore led his team from the front before being so seriously injured, and he and his team are a credit to the Constabulary. They represent the very best of Lancashire Police, and we are immensely proud of them.”
The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.
As nominees, the quartet will attend a prestigious daytime reception and evening awards ceremony in London in July 2021. The 2020 event – the 25th National Police Bravery Awards – had been scheduled to take place this past summer but had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus.
Nevertheless the Police Federation of England and Wales wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the fantastic work of all 94 nominees from across the country online from today (September 24).
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We are incredibly proud of all the nominees from across England and Wales. The actions of these courageous officers provide a small snapshot of the amazing work our colleagues carry out day in and day out.
“This fantastic four Lancashire Police officers faced a horrific attack. It shows how officers never know what they will face when the call comes in. And yet despite the attack, they still managed to apprehend the offender and he is where he belongs. Behind bars. What heroes.
“As a Police Federation, we wanted to make sure these brave officers received the recognition they deserve in the year their actions were meant to be celebrated. And we look forward to seeing them all in person – and revealing regional and national winners – when the time is right in 2021.”
The National Police Bravery Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.
John Perks, Chief Executive Officer of Police Mutual, said: “Police Mutual is, as always, proud to be supporting the National Police Bravery Awards in its 25th anniversary year. Despite having to postpone the original ceremony, the officers’ courage has never been forgotten – they all showed commitment to keeping the public safe in the most demanding of circumstances.
“We very much look forward to meeting all the nominated officers in July 2021 for the ceremony, and our chance to give our thanks in person.”