Two brave police officers who tackled an armed man on Dartmoor have been nominated for national bravery awards.

PC Timothy Willett and PC Darren Brimacombe, of Devon and Cornwall Police, were injured when they tried to restrain and arrest a knife-wielding man in Princetown. They attended a Number Ten Downing Street reception, recognising their selfless actions last week. Nearly 90 officers were nominated for various National Police Bravery Awards.

On the night of July 8 2021, police received a report of a high-risk missing person in the middle of Dartmoor, who had left home after committing a domestic assault. The man was described as ‘despondent’ (or extreme loss of hope), under the influence of alcohol and in possession of razor blades.

Area searches were started and eventually the force control room managed to speak to the man on the phone and he said that he was returning to his home address. 

PC Willett and Brimacombe immediately recognised the safeguarding risk to his partner and found him in his car drinking from a bottle while being verbally abusive and aggressive to them.

Without warning, he swung a knife at PC Willett and burst out of the car to attack PC Brimacombe, repeatedly stabbing him as they grappled on the ground. The officer suffered lacerations to his scalp and face, the end of his nose was nearly severed, and a stab wound to the arm caused a significant bleeding. 

PC Timothy Willett
PC Timothy Willett stabbed by a man in Princetown. (Devon and Cornwall Police)

PC Willett struggled with the man to pull him off his colleague and remove the blade, but was also stabbed in his forearm and finger injuries. He subdued the man with his Taser, allowing PC Brimacombe to handcuff him. Both officers activated emergency buttons on their radios to request immediate help. 

A crew in an armed response vehicle from Barnstaple arrived to provide first aid.

Richie Poole, Chair of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “I want to pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of Timothy and Darren, who put themselves in harm’s way to bring a dangerous offender to justice.

“This case brings into sharp relief the very real danger that police officers face every day, even in an area as safe as Devon,and demonstrates the importance of ensuring that police officers are deployed double-crewed for their own safety and the safety of the public.”

At court the assailant admitted two counts of GBH with intent, and to affray and assault on a previous occasion. He was sentenced to 12 years for these offences. He had previously been found guilty of four sexual offences against a child, for which he was sentenced to a further eight years in prison.