South Yorkshire axe man sparked armed response

Armed police took aim at a South Yorkshire man who charged officers waving an axe and "screaming and growling", a court heard.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 11:57 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:11 am

Matthew Aldridge ran back inside his house after two officers arrived at the scene of a disturbance with "angry youths" on Davis Street, Rotherham, at 3am, on June 8, last year.

Prosecutor Andrew Smith said they tried to calm things down when Aldridge reappeared with the axe and ran at them.

One officer said: "I genuinely feared for my safety and that of my colleagues and the general public.”

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Armed police took aim at Matthew Aldridge when he ran at police officers brandishing an axe

But when a firearms officer identified himself, and a green dot from a rifle scope appeared on Aldridge, he stood still and dropped the axe, Mr Smith added.

The court heard that Aldridge, a precision engineer, had previous convictions for battery and drink driving, and had been jailed for burglary in 2014, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 2015.

In a statement, Chief Constable Stephen Watson said police officers did a hard and dangerous job, and on average six officers a week in South Yorkshire are assaulted.

He said they were often left facing psychological trauma, and time off work put extra pressure on the service.

Gordon Stables, mitigating, said Aldridge's flat had been broken into and vandalised earlier and the people that did it were goading him when police arrived.

"I suppose the best way of putting it is that he lost it," he said. "Those who were goading him fled. It was not an incident of his making.

"As a result of this incident supervised contact was stopped between him and his children. That hit him hard.

"The landlord evicted him and wouldn't have him back. He is currently sleeping on a friend's sofa."

Aldridge, 29, of St Mary's Road, Rawmarsh, pleaded guilty to affray, when he appeared in the magistrates' court.

Jailing him for nine months, Judge Peter Kelson QC said: "The fact that they were police officers seemed to be of no concern at all - and that's a problem in society.

"In the early nineties, any case that involved a threat to police officers was met with a prison sentence."