‘Exceptionally brave’ officers honoured for disarming axe man


James Lewis. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Two Suffolk police officers who arrested a man after he charged at them brandishing an axe have been commended for their bravery.

Pc Melissa Steven and Pc Samuel Knibbs attended Ipswich Crown Court and were presented with certificates to mark their actions by the High Sheriff of Suffolk, George Vestey.

The two officers went to Hawthorn Road, Great Cornard, in April this year after police received reports from members of the public who had seen a man walking along the road swinging an axe.

When they arrived at the scene shortly before 8pm they saw James Lewis leaning against a wall with a long-handled axe next to him.

On seeing the officers Lewis dropped a cigarette he had been smoking and picked up the axe with his right hand and held it an aggressive manner at shoulder height.

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He walked towards some garages waving the axe and ignored Pc Steven who was shouting at him to drop the axe.

Pc Steven had used her PARVA incapacitant spray on Lewis but this had no effect and he had charged straight at her and her colleague with the axe raised. As the spray began to affect Lewis the officers ran towards him and after drawing their batons they managed to disarm him.

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Jailing Lewis for 16 months earlier this month, Judge Rupert Overbury commended the bravery of the two police officers.

In his commendation, Judge Overbury described the incident as “extremely serious” and said it was fortunate no-one was seriously injured.

He said the officers had acted in an “exceptionally brave way” by disarming Lewis and defusing a very dangerous situation.

Pc Knibbs said he and his colleague, who had completed 10 weeks’ training just three weeks earlier, had gone to Great Cornard to check out the incident.

He said armed response officers were on their way but he and his colleague had felt compelled to intervene and get the situation under control because of the potential risk to the public.

Lewis, 34, of Valley Road, Sudbury admitted having an offensive weapon, affray and resisting arrest on April 15.

Lewis, who represented himself in court, apologised for what he had done and said he sought help for issues he had including anger management.

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