Award for police officers in rapist investigation
DC Karen Kerton and PC Trudi May were recognised at the latest Chief Constable’s Awards.
For more than four decades Timothy Bleach had got away with a catalogue of crimes against Hampshire school girls.
But thanks to the dedication, meticulous detail and personal sacrifice of two officers, his victims finally got justice.
DC Kerton was the case officer for the investigation into historic crimes committed against pupils in a school during the 1970s.
Bleach, 76, was charged with 13 offences of rape and 127 offences of indecent assault and indecency with a child relating to 12 victims.
In December 2016 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
This was a highly complex investigation and without forensic or digital evidence that many cases rely on today, they had to build a compelling case.
Throughout the investigation both DC Kerton and PC May managed the victims’ needs with extreme sensitivity and professionalism, something which received praise from the judge.
Detective Superintendent Rachel Farrell said: “Keeping so many victims on board was a huge achievement, particularly when for many, the impact of the decision to take the matter to court was significant.”
There were also awards for PC Guy Dempsey and PC Warren Macklin of Winchester, and Joanne Robson, a member of the public.
When confronted with a burning building these two officers ran towards it as everyone else ran away.
Having been told that there was a man inside, the pair ignored the thick black smoke that engulfed the Winchester building and ran in.
Checking all the rooms as they went, they found the man lying motionless on the floor.
He had been dragged there by Joanne Robson, who had managed to pull the man from the room where the fire had started, before helping to evacuate others from the building.
Despite the wall of thick smoke the officers were able to drag the man down the corridor and got him outside to safety.
Both the officers and Ms Robson risked their own lives to save this man’s life and had it not been for their actions that day in July, he may not have survived.
Firearms officer PC Martin Parker also received an award.
Time was of the essence when PC Parker and his team were called to a man who had hung himself from a tree in Stockbridge, last April.
With a ladder placed against the tree, PC Parker quickly climbed to the top and took the man’s weight, around 17 stone. But, without warning, the ladder suddenly collapsed below them.
Remarkably, PC Parker not only managed to grab onto the tree, preventing himself from falling, he was also still able to support the man 30ft above the ground, knowing that any sudden movement would end in tragedy.
Fortunately his team were able to get the ladder back up and safely cut the man down.
Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney presented the awards.
She said: “It is with immense pride that I present these awards to our officers who have truly shown great courage and professionalism when faced with some truly terrible crimes.
“Every day our officers are working hard to make our communities safer and these examples show the lengths they are willing to go to in order to protect those they have promised to serve, often putting themselves in harm’s way without a second thought.
“From incredible displays of strength, to personal sacrifices to get the job done and running into danger when others are going in the opposite direction, it is clear these officers have gone above and beyond.”