Thames Valley police officers who caught terrorist to represent force at national bravery awards

PC James Packman, Sgt Iain Watkinson, PC Liam Steele and PC Liam King

Four Thames Valley Police officers who tracked down and caught the man responsible for a terror attack in Reading have been named the overall winners of the Thames Valley Police Federation Bravery Awards.

PC James Packman, Sgt Iain Watkinson, PC Liam Steele and PC Liam King beat off stiff competition from five other outstanding acts of police bravery to win The Major John Howard Award for Bravery.

The group will now be the Thames Valley Police Representatives at the National Police Bravery Awards in London in December.

PC James Packman, Sgt Iain Watkinson, PC Liam Steele and PC Liam King

PC Packman, who had only been an officer for two years, was off duty and enjoying a summer evening in Forbury Gardens with friends when he witnessed from afar the horrific attack on three men. Without a thought, he ran after the attacker.

David Wails, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and James Furlong died in the attack

PC Packman kept his eyes on the suspect while he called the police, then ran after him, out of the park. He was still describing Khairi Saadalah and his whereabouts in detail as he ran after him, despite having no protective equipment on him.

  • Watch the moment police chase and apprehend Khairi Saadallah

PC Packman's precise instructions allowed nearby, unarmed uniformed response officers PC Steele, PC King, and Sgt Watkinson, to make their way by car to the top of Friar Street.

They saw Saadalah running towards them, and despite not knowing if he was still armed, got out of their cars, chased him, rugby tackled him to the floor, restrained and arrested him.

Khairi Saadallah was tackled by the officers Credit: Thames Valley Police/PA

Thames Valley Police Federation Chairman Craig O'Leary said "This quartet are very worthy winners. They are complete heroes. On duty and off duty they confronted extreme danger and not only stopped this person from harming anyone else - or each other - but also ensured the attacked could be brought to justice.

"We could not be prouder of their actions - they were in the finest traditions of British policing and it is only right that their dynamic and incredible work that evening will now be recognised nationally."

"I'd also like to pay tribute to the many Thames Valley colleagues who worked that night - including those who administered first aid to the victims - and the detectives who brought the attacker to justice.

"Our thoughts remain with all those who were injured in this terrorist attack and the families of those killed in this devastating incident."

Khairi Saadallah pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in November 2020. The judge determined that the attack was conducted for a terrorist purpose, sentencing Saadalah to a whole life tariff without eligibility for parole for each count of murder, and 24 years' imprisonment for each count of attempted murder.

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