An ‘atrocious’ axe attack on a police officer which left her with a fractured skull, broken leg and fingers ‘hanging off’ was the most serious on South Yorkshire’s streets in 30 years.
Five police officers were attacked in the terrifying incident on Sheffield’s Gleadless Valley estate, with fears the brave bobbies could have been killed.
The grieving dad of murdered Merseyside police officer Dave Philips, killed in a hit-and-run while on duty in October, contacted South Yorkshire’s branch of the Police Federation to ‘express his thoughts for the injured officers’.
Two officers were injured after being confronted by a man wielding an axe as they responded a report of a ‘domestic incident’ at a flat on Plowright Close on Wednesday night.
Eyewitness Simon Ellis, aged 46, said the injured female officer’s fingers were left ‘hanging off’, her ankle was ‘smashed and disfigured’ and her head was bleeding as she was chased out of a block of flats by a ‘bodybuilder with an axe’.
Three others were hurt while trying to arrest him after he fled to the nearby Co-op on Blackstock Road, where he hurled missiles at terrified staff and customers – one of whom said she ‘feared’ for her life.
The injured female officer, who was left bleeding heavily and screaming for help during the attack, was yesterday due to undergo surgery, and will need ‘ongoing treatment’ if she is ever to fully recover.
Police Federation chairman Neil Bowles said: “The female police officer could easily have died, we are thankful that she was not more seriously injured.
“It has shocked everyone in South Yorkshire Police. It is the most serious I have known in South Yorkshire in my 30 year career.
“This is an example of officers receiving a call from a member of the pubic and not knowing what they are going to face.
“It is atrocious that we have five officers injured in the line of duty – it is an attack on society because we now have five officers unable to work now for some time while they recover.
“Officers have a sense of duty – they are there to protect the public, themselves and their colleagues.”
Chief Superintendent David Hartley, Sheffield’s District Commander, described the incident as ‘traumatic’ and said although officers expect some hostility and violence in the line of duty, the attack was ‘exceptional’.
“Police officers do expect to face hostility and levels of violence, that’s part of the job of keeping the public safe, but this is exceptional,” he said.
“I would hope that this is a once-in-service scale of incident that they will have to face.
“It is reassuring that officers don’t routinely face this level of violence - it’s unusual.”
He said all the officers involved in apprehending the armed man had demonstrated ‘courageous actions’.
A man was being held in police custody last night on suspicion of attempted murder.
The flat where the first part of the horror attack occurred was cordoned off and under police guard yesterday while forensic experts examined the scene.
Blood stains were clearly visible on the floor of the Co-op, which remained closed while officers examined the shop and carried out house-to-house enquiries.
n Witnesses to the incident or anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101.