By STEVE DOWNES
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
A courageous policeman who was stabbed by a knife-wielding attacker was back at work the next day.
Sgt Andy Smith was saved from death by his body armour after the chilling attack outside Cromer police station last October.
But, despite being stabbed once and having two knives thrown at him, the fearless law-enforcer was soon back on the beat.
He said: “I was back to work the next day. I received phone calls and enquiries from chief officers to see that I was OK, which I was.”
He added: “In my early years, it was drummed into me that you always put on your body armour the moment you walk through the door until you leave.
“I always ensure my staff do the same thing. It doesn’t bear thinking what could have happened if I wasn’t wearing it.”
Today, Sgt Smith was praised by his bosses.
Chief Supt Nick Dean said: “Sergeant Smith showed immense bravery when he was confronted with a man wielding two knives, and Denton quite rightly has received a custodial sentence.
“This incident shows the spontaneous, unpredictable nature of policing and we cannot underestimate what any officer might face on any day.”
Chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation Paul Ridgway said: “We are extremely pleased with the prison sentence that has been given in this case for what was a totally unprovoked and apparently deliberate attack on the police generally. Sergeant Smith showed courage in facing the attacker and we praise the officer’s actions.
“This incident exposes the potential dangers that all officers face in keeping the county of Norfolk safe. What the officer believed was a routine encounter ended up being very serious. We are thankful the officer was not hurt.”
Sgt Smith was stabbed after Shane Denton lured him outside by throwing a bottle of spirits at the police station window at Cromer.
After realising he was unhurt, the officer pulled out his baton to continue the deadly struggle.
The attacker then threw the two knives at Sgt Smith, who ducked out of the way and managed to restrain Denton, who was arrested.
On Monday, the 29-year-old was jailed for five years and four months by a judge at Norwich Crown Court after admitting attempted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
After the case, Sgt Smith, a popular senior officer in north Norfolk, told of his relief after his brush with death.
He said: “Denton drew me out of the police station to attack and hurt me. This came just days after two colleagues died in Manchester and it’s fair to say officers were on edge following that tragic incident.
“I feel very fortunate that my body armour protected me from a wound which could have killed me.”
The unprovoked attack, which was captured on CCTV, happened at the Holt Road station on Tuesday October 9 2012.
Denton, of Westcliff Avenue, Cromer, had been drinking heavily that evening and went to the police station, where he threw a bottle of spirits at the window.
Sgt Smith, who came out to speak to him, described what followed.
He said: “As I approached him he apologized for what he was going to do – he then he pulled out two knives from his waistband and thrust one into my chest, which was fortunately protected by body armour.
“I stepped back withdrawing my baton, and he threw both knives at me from close range, which I was able to duck.”
Sgt Smith was able to restrain Denton and he was arrested and taken into custody.
During interview he said he threw the bottle as he wanted to get arrested so he could see a family member in prison, and admitted trying to stab Sgt Smith with the knives that were later established to have come from a relative’s house.
Sgt Smith added: “We train regularly for situations like this, but don’t expect to be confronted with a man wielding two knives in Cromer. My latest session in unarmed defence was today, and we have used this incident to show other officers how to tackle an armed offender safely.”
On September 17 2012, Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, police officers in Manchester, were lured to a house, where they were shot repeatedly. Dale Cregan and nine other men are currently on trial in connection with the deaths.