A police officer who was shot in the mouth during a 12-hour armed seige in Sutton St James and his colleague who nursed him at the scene have been reminded at a national bravery awards ceremony that they are ‘still heroes’ just for being nominated.
In spite of not being outright winners, PC Steven Hull and PC Karen Irving joined joined 65 of their colleagues from 31 forces around the country for a reception at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday as a mark of recognition for their heroic acts.
The regional winners were two Suffolk Constabulary officers, PC Paul Osmond and PC Rebecca Gardiner, who stopped a violent man from killing himself.
Sgt Stephen Brown, an officer who tackled and disarmed a man who was trying to slash him with a Samurai sword, was the overall winner.
PC Hull and PC Irving were first on the scene in February 2012 when Barry Horspool (61) threatened to kill himself and a police officer.
Their job was to keep watch until armed police and negotiators arrived.
However, Horspool fired his sawn off rifle, shattering the windscreen of the police car.
The bullet went through PC Hull’s lip and embedded itself in his jaw.
The shot could have proved fatal but, without thought for himself and in spite of the dashboard of the car being splattered with blood, he quickly reversed the car out of danger.
PC Irving gave him first aid, wrapping his facial injury up “like a mummy”, and the pair remained to guard the scene and keep the public away.
The siege ended when Mr Horspool shot himself as police surrounded his home.
PC Hull (33), who is married with children and now serves as a detective constable, spoke of the moment he was shot. He said: “I saw blood all over the car. I could feel something lodged in my mouth but I had no idea it was a bullet until the doctor removed it in hospital.
“I wouldn’t say I felt particularly brave when I reversed out of there. I was trying to get us to an area that was safe.”
PC Irving (49), who has two grown-up children and three grandsons, said: “When we got there we chose what we thought was a safe position.
“I noticed a top window was open and I said: ‘That curtain moved’.
“As I said that the windscreen came in. It was just a massive bang and there was blood all over the car and all over me.
“I initially thought he had lost half his head. I was frightened to look at him. He reversed down the road.
“All I had in my mind was Hungerford and I thought: ‘Not on my watch’.
“I was just doing my job. We were there to try to save this man from hurting himself or his family.”
PC Hull and PC Irving have already been described as heroes by their Community Policing Inspector Jim Tyner. Ins Tyner said: “I am extremely proud of them. The true bravery wasn’t just on the day.
“It must have taken incredible courage: returning to work, putting on their uniforms, going on patrol again.
“They will always be my heroes.”