Southwold: Tributes paid to tragic police officer found dead in a field

COMMUNITY leaders last night paid tribute to a popular and respected community police officer who was found dead in a field.

The body of Pc Mike Gard, 37, was found by a member of the public near a track on open farmland at Blofield Heath, outside Norwich, on April 19. Norfolk police have investigated his death and found there were no suspicious circumstances.

PC Gard, who was born in Great Yarmouth and lived in Worlingham, near Beccles, served for Suffolk police at Southwold, Beccles and Halesworth.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong opened and adjourned an inquest into Pc Gard’s death at the coroner’s office in Thorpe Road, Norwich, yesterday.

Mr Armstrong said: “Police officers were called to a remote rural location and arrived to find a body which was lying in shrubbery near a tree.

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“He had suffered very significant head injuries and there was a shotgun nearby. It was immediately obvious that he was dead.

“A post-mortem was carried out which found the cause of death was massive trauma to the head. There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstance or any third person involved.”

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Last night, Southwold town mayor Sue Allen led the tributes to Pc Gard. “He was a marvellous local police officer and was so good with everybody, of all ages,” she said.

“He really cared about his job and fulfilled it in a friendly way that fitted in with the town. On behalf of Southwold Town Council, we will miss him very much.”

PC Gard joined Suffolk Constabulary in 1998 and started his career in Beccles before becoming a community police officer at Halesworth.

He later returned to Beccles as a response officer where he served as a tutor constable and acting sergeant. PC Gard moved to Southwold in 2005 and most recently had returned to Beccles.

In Southwold, he was the public face of a campaign promoting grassroots policing, which saw pictures and contact details of police officers put on key rings and distributed around the community. The scheme was hailed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Pc Gard was also a keen fundraiser for charity, including taking part in the Southwold Christmas Day Swim two years in a row. On one occasion he led 130 swimmers into the sea while wearing full uniform.

Event organiser Dudley Clarke said: “He was a true gentleman who played a very active part in community life. He was always very supportive of charitable events and was a very conscientious and devoted officer.

“He was extremely well liked by people and was always happy to stop and have a chat in the street. He was exactly what you would want in a traditional local bobby.”

Southwold shopkeeper Guy Mitchell said: “Many people who work in Southwold will remember Mike - he was a popular part of the Southwold community.

“I clearly remember him welcoming us to the High Street when we first took over our business and he would regularly pop in just to ask if everything was okay. He was a credit to the police force, striking a perfect balance between professionalism and friendliness.”

A colleague of PC Gard paid tribute to him on social networking website Twitter: “I and my colleagues are in mourning - shocking, terrible loss of a fantastic person and copper. Losing a colleague in such tragic circumstances always puts everything else into a different perspective.”

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