Commendations for friends who tackled violent attacker

Mick Ferris

Friends PC Ben Leaver and Josh Giddens did not hesitate to step in to help a man being assaulted while lying unconscious on the ground.

Working together, they not only prevented him from sustaining further injuries, but also restrained the attacker, enabling him to be safely arrested.

A 44-year-old Southend man was later jailed for a total of six years and six months for causing grievous bodily harm with intent and for two counts of assaulting an emergency worker by beating.

Now Ben and Josh have been commended for their bravery, quick-thinking and selflessness by Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington.

Ben was returning to his home near Rochford after a late shift in Southend on November 27 2021, when Josh flagged him down to tell him there was a fight nearby.

Ben, an Essex officer for 17 years, said: “Josh showed me where the guy who had been assaulted should have been. All I could see was a crumpled heap on the ground – he had been so badly beaten.

“Then a man appeared claiming to be the chap’s mate and saying he would look after him but Josh identified him as the suspect, so I told him he was under arrest on suspicion of assault and it just went off.

“I was trying to restrain him and got him on the floor While I was doing this, he bit me quite badly and passers-by were getting involved, trying to stand the victim up.

“My primary function as a policeman is to protect life and I couldn’t get to the victim because the suspect was so violent. So I had to ask Josh to help me to restrain the man on the floor while telling the others not to move the victim because he had a traumatic head injury.

“It’s a real honour to be commended but I think Josh’s actions were more noteworthy, given that he’s a civilian. I am trained to deal with this sort of thing whereas he just jumped in.”

Josh was on his way to pick up a takeaway and as he pulled into a car park he saw two people standing there – one looked as though his face had been badly beaten.

Josh said: “At first I thought the other guy was his friend because he was telling the man ‘everything will be OK’. I offered to call an ambulance but he said one was on the way.

“I wasn’t completely certain that was the case because they started to walk off, which was odd because if they had called an ambulance, why were they moving away?

“So I rang 999 for an ambulance and, as I did so, the man I thought was a friend started to kick and punch the other man so I asked for the police as well.

“Then, in a fateful moment, I saw Ben driving past. The victim was lying on the floor in a terrible state but it was really difficult because Ben was trying to apprehend the suspect and couldn’t attend to the needs of the victim.

“It was difficult for us to restrain the suspect. He even bit Ben on the arm – it was quite a bite because Ben had a coat and a jumper on and his skin was broken.”

When police officers and an ambulance crew arrived, the man was arrested – while spitting at one police officer and biting another on the leg – and his victim was taken to hospital.

Josh said it was a natural instinct for him to step in.

“It was a very cold and dark night and we were told afterwards that, if we hadn’t have stopped, the man could have died from his injuries or from hypothermia,” he said.

“It feels good to be commended but it’s something I felt I had to do. I’m not sure if it was stupidity or bravery. I felt a bit numb afterwards and it took a few days for what had happened to sink in.”

Chief Constable Harrington said: “Police officers are never off duty and their instinct is to run towards danger, which is exactly what Ben did when he was flagged down by his friend Josh.

“But our officers are trained for this and the public are not so the fact that Josh did not flinch or turn away when he saw a man being brutally attacked, instead trying to assist and get help, is outstanding.”

Mick Ferris

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