A man has been given an eight month sentence, suspended for 18 months at Luton Crown Court today after pleading guilty to attacking Bedford Police station with a hammer and a three foot long machete.
The incident, which happened completely without warning on November 11, resulted in the side door to the station at Greyfriars smashed in before 27 year old Anthony Underwood ran off into busy Midland Road waving the weapons round his head.
Unarmed police officers, some in plain clothes and others without even basic protection such as body armour or batons streamed out of the station and after Underwood to try to protect shoppers from potential injury.
Underwood, of Croxden Way, Elstow, Bedford, had admitted criminal damage to property, affray and possession of a knife at an earlier hearing.
The drama started at about 12.55pm when Insp Nick Masters, a community partnerships officer, was standing in the side lobby with two visitors to the police station.
Hearing a noise at the side door, which opens on to the pavement, he went to investigate and saw Underwood attacking the bottom pane of glass with a hammer in one hand and the machete in the other.
Ushering his guests back into the internal corridor, Nick opened the broken door, and shouted at the man to stop.
Underwood ran off round to the front of the police station where members of the public were waiting to be seen in the enquiry office.
By this time other officers had arrived from various departments in the building and tried to contain Underwood in the front car park.
However, he brandished the weapons at them and then ran off down Greyfriars and into Midland Road, with Insp Masters desperately running ahead to warn shoppers of the on-coming danger.
On the CCTV footage captured on Midland Road, terrified and screaming members of the public could be seen running away as a selection of officers pursued Underwood at a distance of no more than a few feet, pleading with him to put the weapons down.
Eventually he was surrounded outside a shop but with their armed response colleagues still en route, officers could not get near him as he thrashed the machete round and chopped the top off a wooden bollard.
The incident ended with a flying rugby tackle by Sgt Phil Boyd, who made a split second decision to try to bring Underwood under control when the weapons were suddenly dropped in front of him.
In interview later on in the day, Underwood told officers after arrest that he was desperate to go to prison to try to kick a £300 per day cocaine habit and thought that his actions would get him there.
“I’m exceptionally proud of my officers,” said Supt Rob McCaffray.
“They acted in the best traditions of the British police service. Unarmed, some without so much as a coat or uniform to protect themselves, they selflessly and instantaneously put themselves between good and evil.
“Some later recounted how frightened they were; for themselves, their colleagues and the public.
“That is the definition of real courage - realising the danger but continuing to protect the public anyway.
“It’s clearly illustrated on the CCTV and their actions probably prevented serious injury or damage elsewhere in the town.”