Police commend public heroes

GREAT acts of public bravery and civic duty have been marked in a special Essex Police ceremony.Members of the public, as well as police officers, received the commendations at police headquarters in Chelmsford yesterday .

GREAT acts of public bravery and civic duty have been marked in a special Essex Police ceremony.

Members of the public, as well as police officers, received the commendations at police headquarters in Chelmsford yesterday .

Sarah Bishop and Robyn Aldrich were commended for their actions on October 12, 2004, when they witnessed a series of violent domestic assaults by a man on a woman in Chelmsford.

Regardless of their own safety, the pair followed the couple around the town and intervened on several occasions as the man repeatedly assaulted the woman while other members of the public looked on.

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Through their willingness to give evidence, the defendant pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court to common assault and was jailed for four months.

Paul Cook, of Clacton, was commended for his courage, initiative and public-spirited actions while pursuing a man, who had just robbed a post office, by keeping observation and then assisting an off-duty police officer with the suspect's arrest.

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At Chelmsford Crown Court in November 2004, two men were jailed for five-and-a-half and four-and-a-half years respectively.

Meanwhile, a father who pinned down a man who had just attacked a frail elderly woman was presented with a bravery award.

Peter Richards, of Clacton, was awarded the Provincial Police Awards 2004 Certificate of Commendation at the ceremony.

The Association of Chief Police Officers' award recognises outstanding acts of bravery or devotion to civic duty by members of the public in support of the police.

Mr Richards, his wife and daughters were in their car on March 20, 2004, when they saw an elderly woman struggling with a man who was trying to steal her handbag. Another man was standing nearby.

The woman fell to the ground in the struggle and the man dragged her along in his attempts to escape with the bag.

Mr Richards ran to the woman's aid, shouting at the men as he did so. They ran off but Mr Richards went after them, singling out the attacker when the pair split up in an attempt to lose him.

Losing sight of the man, Mr Richards checked some outbuildings, found him hiding by a wall and grabbed hold of him. The man began to struggle violently but, with the help of a local resident, Mr Richards held on to him until police arrived.

Part of his citation reads: "He showed great tenacity in pursuing the main offender and, even though he suspected him of carrying a knife, grabbed hold of him and managed to hold on to him, despite a violent struggle, until police arrived."

Essex Police officers also received commendations from Chief Constable David Stevens yesterday.

Pc Brian Edwards, of Maldon, was commended for his tact, diplomacy and courage when investigating offences of assault and criminal damage.

Pc Edwards was isolated and confined in an area where a 42-year-old man threatened him with a kitchen knife. Using his tact and diplomacy, Pc Edwards calmed the suspect, making a safe arrest possible.

At magistrates' court, the man was jailed for 28 days on three offences, and was ordered to pay £50 compensation.

Insp Michael Pitcher, of Chelmsford, was commended for his leadership and devotion to duty when, with other officers, he was called to an incident where a man had threatened suicide and was locked in a bathroom.

The man was seen to cut his wrists with a kitchen knife. Insp Pitcher kicked in the bathroom door and, in a confined space, was faced with a mentally disturbed, armed man.

Insp Pitcher wrestled the kitchen knife from the man, who was threatening to stab himself. He then administered first aid to the man, who stopped breathing on four occasions, before trained medical staff were able to stabilise his condition.

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