Officers who tackled armed man nominated for bravery awards
- Credit: Norfolk Police
Two Norfolk police officers who bravely arrested a gun-wielding man intent on ending his life in a shootout have been nominated for bravery awards.
PC Leanne Payne and PC Joseph Konieczny were called to Coldham Hall Tavern at Surlingham, near Norwich, and confronted by a man in military-style clothing armed with what looked like a rifle.
Simon Tait had gone there with an imitation gun intent on provoking a police shooting as he "wanted to be shot dead".
He had called a member of staff stating “I will come into the pub in a minute, I will be armed”.
One of the armed officers who raced to the incident on May 23 last year said it was any firearms officer's "worst nightmare" as they did not know whether the weapon was real or not.
Fortunately, Tait slipped, giving officers just enough time to select a non-lethal baton round which was fired at Tait's leg, allowing him to be safely apprehended.
PC Payne and PC Konieczny will attend a national awards ceremony in London next month which honours officers for bravery while on or off duty.
Sam Hawkins, Secretary of Norfolk Police Federation, said: “What incredible work from Leanne and Joseph. We are so proud of them.
“They understandably believed this man had a genuine weapon, and feared for their lives.
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"But their calm professionalism and quick thinking meant they were able to disarm him and detain him, protecting everyone around them.
“Leanne and Joseph embody the best of the police service - they deserve all the praise and recognition they are getting.”
In August last year Tait, then 38, and of Coldham Hall, was jailed for four years and four months by Judge Andrew Shaw who said Tait had become “completely unstable” due to earlier events that caused him to “want to end your life”.
He said Tait was someone who was "clearly intending a fatal action against you” adding he had created a very serious risk of severe psychological harm to those present as well as a high risk of his own death.
Tait had admitted possession of an imitation firearm, assaulting an emergency worker and sending a communication with intent to cause distress.
He also admitted an indent images offence dating back to February last year.
At the sentencing hearing Norwich Crown Court was shown body-worn camera footage of the incident as it unfolded.
In a victim impact statement one of the officers described it as the "most challenging" situation they had ever faced.
They said having to deal with “life and death situations” as part of their role had made them "proud to have achieved this role and the responsibility that comes with it".
But they also knew their actions would be scrutinised in the months and years afterwards.
They said: "I was faced with any armed officer’s worst nightmare, potentially looking down the barrel of a weapon that could kill me or looking at a plastic toy.
"The weapon that Tait had looked every much a genuine weapon and I’m afforded the right to assume it is a viable firearm.
"It is a daunting prospect knowing that I am about to get out of a car facing potentially lethal firearms because I want to do everything I can to not kill or seriously injure him."
The officer said they were "so relieved" Tait slipped as it gave the time to discharge a non-lethal shot but insisted Tait’s actions "could have had fatal consequences that day".
Damien Moore, mitigating, praised the “remarkable bravery” of the police officers who attended adding that “all of this was to end his (Tait's) own life”.
Tait was also made the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) and put on the sex offenders register for 10 years.