Praise for train cops in thick of mob
AFTER single-handedly defying more than 60 football thugs, British Transport Police constable Steve Woods was today praised for his courage.The Ipswich-based officer faced down the rampage armed only with his baton while he shielded two colleagues as they struggled with a notorious soccer troublemaker.
By Colin Adwent
BRAVE police constable Steve Woods was today praised for his courage after single-handedly defying more than 60 football thugs.
The Ipswich-based British Transport Police officer faced down the rampage armed only with his baton while he shielded two colleagues as they struggled with a notorious troublemaker.
During the mini-riot the trio also faced the lethal prospect of being forced out the back door of a passenger train thundering down the track at up to 80mph.
The man they were trying to subdue managed to escape briefly from Pc Sarah Rouse and Sergeant Alan Bardsley, but was arrested a short time later at Liverpool Street station.
Thanks to the officers' efforts John Camac, who lives in the Reading area, is now beginning a seven-month jail term.
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Sgt Bardsley, a BTP officer for 19 years, said: "It was one of the worst incidents involving football fans I have seen. It must have been a frightening and horrifying experience for the other passengers.
"Pc Woods and Pc Rouse were outstanding in the face of a large group of hostile football supporters. They displayed great courage."
The trouble began when Reading fans travelled home after a game at Colchester. Sgt Bardsley, who was off-duty at the time, said the situation was getting out of hand as the train pulled in at Chelmsford, where he was on the platform.
"There were about 80 supporters in the carriage," he said. "It was a volatile atmosphere with fans standing on seats, banging on windows and shouting at people on the platform."
After they left Chelmsford one of the fans made an obscene gesture to Pc Rouse. She called the yob over, but others intervened and trouble broke out.
When Sgt Bardsley – who was on his way to start his shift at Liverpool Street – went to help, Camac turned on him and said 'Who the **** are you?' before punching him in the face.
As he tried to arrest Camac, the 35-year-old yob kicked him in a violent tussle. While Pc Rouse attempted to help Sgt Bardsley, Pc Woods tried to fend off dozens of supporters attempting to get Camac away.
"There was one sliding door separating us from the fans," said Sgt Bardsley. "Steve managed to shut the door, but there was a big crowd kicking and banging the windows. We felt the whole partition was going to cave in on top of us.
"Steve was fending off a large group of supporters with his baton. There were so many of them they overwhelmed us and dragged Camac away."
Camac was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to six months for affray and an additional month for punching Sgt Bardsley in the incident, which happened in April last year. Camac, who has a long history of football-related convictions, was also banned from football grounds for seven years.
Pc Woods and Pc Rouse's senior officer Sergeant Bob Munn also praised their bravery.
He said: "I'm proud of them. They showed courage and restraint in a potentially life-threatening situation."