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‘Outstanding bravery’ of cops who saved ‘bomber’

Suspect who had coloured wires protruding from his jacket ‘could have been shot’ during incident near the Emirates Stadium

19 May, 2017 — By William McLennan

From left: police officers Marc Woolmer, Sam Homer, Alex Field, Wayne Pullen and Jason Hodgson have been commended

POLICE officers who tackled a suspected suicide bomber near the Emirates Stadium have been commended for some of “the most outstanding bravery ever seen”.

The team of constables were awarded the Met commissioner’s prestigious Excellence Award on Friday for their actions in subduing the man, who had wires and mobile phones strapped to his chest in Avenell Road, Highbury.

The bomb turned out to be a fake, but police chiefs said that the terrorist threat was so believable that the suspect would have “undoubtedly” been shot by armed officers had the constables not intervened.

PCs Jason Hodgson and Alex Field were responding to reports of a man walking the streets armed with a machete in January last year.

As they approached the suspect, he dropped the weapon and they were able to detain him after a violent struggle. PCs Sam Homer and Marc Woolmer joined the others at the scene and fired Tasers at the man.

Superintendent Nick Davies, who presented the officers with the award at Camden Town Hall, said: “At this point they noticed coloured wires protruding from his jacket and what appeared to be a trigger device. They noticed he appeared to be wearing some sort of improvised explosive vest, aware there was possible imminent danger to themselves and everybody else.”

They used two pairs of handcuffs to detain the man and “had the presence of mind to restrict his movements to prevent any triggers being used”, he said.

PC Wayne Pullen, a former RAF police officer with experience of improvised explosive devices, then “bravely undertook the task of searching the man”, SI Davies said.

He added: “The suspect looked every inch a genuine terrorist, he was clearly causing large fear within our community. He was in the vicinity of Arsenal football club, which would be a viable target.”

PC Pullen described the moment he began to search the suspect, finding several mobile phones, bits of circuit board and a web of wires wrapped around his torso.

“The key thing was to find out if it was a viable device. If it was, then we’d have to change our approach and begin evacuating the area,” he said.

There was a trigger on his chest with “what looked liked a viable positive and negative lead” coming from it and a battery wrapped in black electrical tape, he said.

He was eventually able to establish that it was not a viable explosive device.

“There was a white wire leading from the battery and I was able to follow it round to his back, where it came to a dead end,” he said.

The man was sent to a mental health hospital to receive the “appropriate” treatment, PC Pullen said, adding: “The way he was dressed and the way he behaved, I have no doubt it could well have ended a lot worse for him.”

PC Field said he spoke to bomb disposal experts, who later arrived on the scene, who confirmed that their intervention had saved a life that day.

“They said he would have had a bullet in his forehead if it wasn’t for us,” he said.

SI Davies said: “It’s quite difficult for me to effectively convey to you how we feel about these officers and how proud we are. The suspect could have been met by an armed officer and would have undoubtedly ended in a shooting, but for these officers bravery.”

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