Tributes pour in for ‘extraordinary’ former Stevenage and St Albans police sergeant

Former Stevenage and St Albans officer, Sgt Leah McDermott passed away after a battle with cancer. P

Former Stevenage and St Albans officer, Sgt Leah McDermott passed away after a battle with cancer. Picture: Herts Police - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to an “extraordinary” former Stevenage and St Albans police sergeant, who died after a battle with cancer.

After an 18–year career with the police, that saw her serve in the communities of Stevenage, St Albans, Radlett, Elstree and Borehamwood, Sergeant Leah McDermott passed away at 46 on Friday, June 26.

Colleagues said Leah had always shown a passion for policing and wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps – who had been a police inspector in Hertford.

She had initially worked for the ambulance service before joining Herts police as a call handler in the control room in 1995.

Leah then became a fully-trained officer in 2002, and joined the St Albans force as an intervention officer.

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During her 18–year career, she worked in Stevenage as a custody officer and safer neighbourhood team sergeant in Bushey and Radlett.

Leah was loved and respected by colleagues and friends across the force, who have all been paying tribute to her.

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Words such as “efficient”, “devoted”, “hardworking and compassionate” have been attributed to Leah with one colleague describing her as “a great boss, who wanted you to achieve your best”.

Inspector Vicki Richards, Leah’s former manager and close friend, described her as an inspiration.

Vicki said: “She was incredibly organised, motivated, knowledgeable and caring, whilst still maintaining an air of authority and strength of character immediately apparent to officers and offenders alike.

“Leah was an extraordinary person and an outstanding police officer who I have been honoured to work with. This wasn’t just her job, it was who she was.”

Leah first met her husband Karl, another former police officer, in 2002 when the pair worked at St Albans police station.

They married in 2005, and their twin daughters, Chloe and Abbie, were born in 2009. Karl describes Leah as his “best friend, wife, mother and my everything”.

Vicki added: “As well as being a dedicated police officer, Leah was a devoted mother to her twin daughters. She and her husband Karl would work opposite shifts so that they could both spend time with their girls while progressing their careers.

“They never had a day off together unless they were on holiday!”

As well as being a full-time police sergeant who was responsible for a team of PCs and PCSOs and mother, Leah was also a personal trainer and even ran the London Marathon in 2018.

Leah also found time to be a school governor and had a reputation as an amazing cook.

Many of her friends have funny stories to tell about Leah, including the time she accidently reversed a police van into a tree.

A private police funeral with be held for Leah next week with limited family and friends in attendance due to the Covid-19 restrictions. The cortege will travel past Stevenage police station on Lytton Way where colleagues will be able to pay their respects.

On the same day, the flag at police Headquarters in Welwyn Garden City will fly at half mast as a mark of respect.

Leah leaves behind husband, Karl and their 11–year–old twins Chloe and Abbie.

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