Suffolk: Heroic officers praised at knifeman’s sentencing

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

A defence barrister has praised the heroism of two Suffolk police officers after one was nearly stabbed trying to disarm a suicidal man who knifed himself.

Stuart Avis was sentenced to a 12-month community order by Ipswich Crown Court after previously admitting affray.

The court heard the officers had gone to the 51-year-old’s home after he had left the scene of a three-vehicle accident on July 3 last year.

Prosecutor Hugh Vass said Avis admitted the affray on the basis that he was only trying to harm himself and not the officers when he grabbed a knife from a kitchen drawer.

In a statement put before the court Avis stated: “I accept this would have been a frightening experience for the officers who would have feared for their safety.”

Pc Rebecca Gardiner and Pc Paul Osmond went to Avis’s home in Churchill Avenue, Newmarket, after a woman involved in the collision said a white van, similar to that in the accident, was parked there.

Mr Vass said the defendant told them he had consumed alcohol after the accident. After he and the officers had gone into the kitchen, Avis took a knife out of a drawer and pushed it into his abdomen.

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The court heard he became very aggressive and a violent struggle ensured during which Avis was “pepper-sprayed”.

Officers said that during the incident he lunged at Pc Gardiner with the knife. Mr Vass said it was accepted Avis did not intend to stab her but the knife did touch her stab vest.

Pc Gardiner then stepped back and the struggle lasted for some time until the officers managed to push the knife away.

Avis then spat blood at them and banged his head on the kitchen table, before being taken to West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds.

Archie Mackay, representing Avis, said: “His state of mind deteriorated in that kitchen to the extent that he wanted to take his own life and there’s no doubting the actions of the police officers in those circumstances were nothing less than heroic.”

The court was told Avis had been suffering from anxiety prompted by unemployment. Police officers had also noticed previous evidence of self-harm.

Avis has now found work in the building industry.

In addition to the community order, Recorder Richard Atchley ordered Avis pay the Pcs £100 each in compensation and a further £500 compensation to the woman whose car was damaged in the earlier accident. He must also pay £500 court costs.