TWO officers who needed extensive surgery after being stabbed multiple times in a frenzied attack on Dartmoor have been nominated for National Police Bravery Awards 2023.
PCs Tim Willett and Darren Brimacombe have been honoured for their bravery in the line of duty while dealing with reports of a high risk missing person in July 2021.
Both were attacked with a knife and one sustained a ‘significant’ arterial bleed.
The officers needed hospital treatment and have undergone multiple operations as part of their recovery.
The drama began when police received a report of a high-risk missing person who left his home after a domestic assault.
Described as despondent and under the influence of alcohol, he had left in his car and was in possession of razor blades.
PCs Willett and Brimacombe, who already knew him, were already searching for him.
After finding his car, they found him drinking and verbally agressive.
Having spoken to calm him, without warning, he swung at, and narrowly missed, PC Willett with a knife.
He then attacked PC Brimacombe who was repeatedly stabbed as they grappled on the ground.
The officer suffered lacerations to his scalp and his left eyelid, nearly having the end of his nose cut off and just millimetres away from damaging his eye.
The knife was then plunged into PC Brimacombe’s arm, causing a significant arterial bleed.
PC Willett wrestled him off his injured colleague but was stabbed in the forearm and sliced his fingers as he pulled the blade from his grasp.
A Taser was deployed by PC Willett to subdue the man so PC Brimacombe could apply handcuffs and detain him.
PC Brimacombe’s arm was bleeding so heavily, he tried applying his own tourniquet, however, there was so much blood he couldn’t keep hold of it and it dropped on the floor.
PC Willett took his own tourniquet and applied it for him, but he couldn’t tighten it as his fingers had been so badly cut.
They then activated the emergency buttons on their radios to request immediate help.
Fortunately, a double-crewed armed response vehicle from Barnstaple, some 50 miles away, had been monitoring the radio transmissions and were already heading into Dartmoor and arrived shortly afterwards to give first aid.
In his witness statement, PC Brimacombe said: ‘There was a point where I was sat there thinking to myself whether I was going to come through all of it. I was genuinely frightened.
‘I am troubled by what the outcome may have been should I have been on my own, which happens regularly in policing the rural community.’
PC Willett said: ‘It was a horrendous situation. I am only thankful that this wasn’t far worse.’
Andy Berry, Devon and Cornwall Police Federation chairman, said: ‘Darren and Tim put any concerns about their own safety to one side and showed huge resilience and bravery in bringing Ross, a dangerous individual, to justice.
‘I am humbled by what Darren and Tim did that night.’
Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Will Kerr said: ‘Both PC Willett and PC Brimacombe showed exceptional bravery and resilience in their handling of the horror they faced that day.
‘The courage both of these officers have shown is nothing short of incredible, putting their own safety at risk to protect others and uphold the law.
‘I am incredibly proud of their actions and commend the bravery and courage they have shown.’
John Ross was later jailed for 20 years in October 2022 for a series of offences including two assault of emergency service workers, grievous bodily harm with intent, having a bladed article and other offences against children.