Cambridgeshire police officers commended for extraordinary acts of selflessness, compassion and bravery at annual awards

PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:09 29 February 2020

Officers from Cambridgeshire Police were praised at The Chief Constable’s Commendations and Long Service Ceremony. Picture: Supplied/CambsCops

Officers from Cambridgeshire Police were praised at The Chief Constable’s Commendations and Long Service Ceremony. Picture: Supplied/CambsCops

Supplied/CambsCops

Extraordinary acts of selflessness, compassion and bravery by Cambridgeshire police officers and members of the public have been praised at an annual commendation ceremony.

The Chief Constable's Commendations and Long Service Ceremony was held at force headquarters in Hinchingbrooke on February 27, with awards going to those who had gone above and beyond.

Chief Constable Nick Dean praised those who had excelled as he presented the awards at his fourth ceremony in the role.

He said: "Going that extra mile is something I, and indeed you, should be enormously proud of.

"My thanks also goes to your family and friends who have supported you as you do great work for the people of Cambridgeshire - something which is often overlooked.

"As we present these awards to our officers and staff, it is overwhelming to read the stories of outstanding bravery, compassion and kindness towards others in very difficult circumstances.

"You have stepped up to help someone in need, put your own lives at risk and gone above and beyond for the people of Cambridgeshire."

Dr Andrew Harter, deputy lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, attended the event to present the Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal to officers who had served 20 years or more.

Other officers and police staff were also commended for their actions.

The awards were as followed:

-DC James Firth was praised for his investigative work after a woman was tied up and robbed in her own home in Cambridge.

During the ordeal David Watts pretended to be a police officer to trick his way into the victim's house.

He blindfolded and handcuffed the woman and also stabbed her in the feet. He used her phone and stole her bank card, forcing her to give him her PIN number.

He withdrew £80 from the victim's account after stealing her bike and going to ASDA. Meanwhile the victim had managed to attract the attention of police by shouting for help. Once found she was taken to hospital.

The woman was left traumatised by what had happened to her, but DC Firth's determination led to Watts being identified as a suspect from CCTV from the cash point outside Asda and DNA found on a window at the victim's address.

In September last year he was sentenced to 20 years in prison with an additional five years on licence.

-PC Chris Smith and PC Alistair Coombes were praised for rescuing a suicidal man near Huntingdon.

-Commendations were also given to Sergeant Matt Rigaut and his colleague for their actions at the scene of a fatal collision in Cambridge.

The pair were on shift on February 13 last year when they spotted a motorcyclist in Orchard Park who aroused suspicion.

They decided to try to stop the motorcyclist, but he turned into Arbury Road and made off at speed.

The rider, Jack O'Donnell, went through a red light before knocking down Lesley Bello-Hernandez, a 67-year-old pedestrian.

On arrival at the scene Sgt Rigaut's colleague immediately went to help Mrs Bello-Hernandez and Sgt Rigaut went to arrest the motorcyclist.

First aid was administered to Mrs Bello-Hernandez until paramedics arrived but, despite everyone's best efforts, she died at the scene.

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Jack O'Donnell was arrested and on April 29 pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by driving a vehicle while unlicensed and uninsured, and two charges of possession with intent to supply class A drugs.

He was jailed for eight years and disqualified from driving for nine years.

The actions of both officers was also praised at Mrs Bello-Hernandez's inquest, with Assistant Coroner Sean Horstead noting their "exemplary conduct" and praising their "robust and highly professional" actions.

-PC Emma Thomas and her colleague were praised for rescuing a suicidal 18-year-old woman near a slip road of the A14 at rush hour.

A Judge's Commendation award was presented to the team of officers who investigated an organised crime gang which committed more than 200 burglaries in an 11-month crime spree.

The gang carried out up to eight burglaries a day across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Bedfordshire, which involved the theft of high-performance vehicles, firearms, jewellery and cash.

Items stolen included £80,000 worth of silverware, a £70,000 sports car, seven puppies and war medals which were taken from a vulnerable elderly widower suffering with dementia.

Due to the police investigation and the tactics employed, many of these items were recovered and returned to their owners.

In December 2018 the gang were jailed for a total of 71 years.

-PCSO Bujar Mani was awarded after his actions in January last year when he found a suicidal woman on a train track in South Cambridgeshire before leading her to safety.

-PC Jemma Russell was also commended for her work after a German Shepherd attacked an elderly woman and her son-in-law in Holme, near Peterborough.

The dog belonged to YouTube star Oladeji Olatunji, 23, known as Deji - who has more than nine million subscribers to his YouTube page.

Deji criticised and insulted both police and the victim on social media but despite this, PC Russell professionally managed the case throughout and gathered expert evidence critical to the case.

She also provided support to the victim and regular case updates, all whilst performing her duties as a response officer.

In December Deji Olatunji and his mother Olayinka Olatunji were sentenced for the offence.

-A member of the public, Steven Kimpton, was also commended for his quick-thinking. Mr Kimpton was driving on the B1040 on October 18 last year when he witnessed a collision in front of him involving a lorry and two cars.

One of the drivers, a woman, was seriously injured and Mr Kimpton provided first aid to her before paramedics arrived.

-DC Denise Brown and Detective Sergeant Gordon Blair received a Judge's Commendation for their work after a woman was raped on a Peterborough footpath in broad daylight.

The woman was raped on the morning of September 30 2017 and her attacker - a teenager - then went on to sexually assault and rob another woman on October 6.

The crimes took place on Bretton Way cycle path, near to Rhubarb Bridge - and the investigation later featured on Channel 4 series 24 Hours in Police Custody.

DNA found on the rape victim's shirt was later recovered and analysed, with forensic experts stating there was a "one in a billion" chance it did not belong to the defendant.

-DC Brown and DS Blair carried out substantial and meticulous research into DNA databases to identify the rapist and provided support to his two victims.

The teenager was 16 at the time of being sentenced in May last year, where he was handed an indefinite hospital order.

-PCSO Aivaras Krochalev was awarded a commendation for his work in finding a suicidal man in Bretton, Peterborough in December.

His quick thinking ensured the man received the immediate medical attention that saved his life.


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