Pc praised for his bravery

A POLICE officer has been praised by a judge for his bravery in dealing with a man wielding a ceremonial sword. Other officers called to the scene in Rockingham Way, Stevenage, including armed police, retreated when Mark Grace refused to put down the swor

A POLICE officer has been praised by a judge for his bravery in dealing with a man wielding a ceremonial sword.

Other officers called to the scene in Rockingham Way, Stevenage, including armed police, retreated when Mark Grace refused to put down the sword.

But Pc Richard Balderstone talked to Grace and managed to calm him down and he threw the weapon on the ground.

Judge Richard Foster said: "He should be highly commended for talking him out of doing something very foolish which could have caused serious harm to police officers. He showed particular bravery that day."


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Grace, 37, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to affray. He was given a community order with 18 months supervision with a requirement to attend an alcohol treatment course.

Colin Banham, prosecuting, said Grace himself made a 999 call at about 11pm on September 19 last year saying he had armed himself with a sword following a disagreement in The Twin Foxes pub in Rockingham Way and said he would use it.

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Police went to his home and found him on the doorstep.

"But then he stood up and walked towards them waving the machete like weapon, swapping it from one hand to the other. He refused to put it down and said he had some trouble in the pub and wanted it for his own protection," said Mr Banham.

"He approached a female officer who backed away and other police units arrived which seemed to make him more agitated. Pc Balderstone tried to negotiate with him but he said 'I will cut a path through all of you'.

"Police retreated and firearms officers attended but Pc Balderstone was able to calm him down and he threw the sword on the ground and was restrained and arrested."

Kevin Walsh, defending, said: "He had been drinking for two days and following an incident in the pub went home fearing for his own safety. He thought men were coming to his house and he armed himself with the ceremonial sword from his bedroom wall.

"He was very confused and when police arrived, he at first thought they were the men who were after him.

"He has had a sad and somewhat troubled life with a history of psychiatric illness and a reliance on drink. But since this incident he has virtually stopped drinking and has been reunited with his family. It was a turning point for him and I urge the court to temper justice with mercy."

Judge Foster said: "This was an appalling incident. You drank yourself into a stupor. You thought people were trying to attack you when plainly they were not. You were over-anxious and overreacted to a minor argument in the pub.

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