Police Federation

Met 2

Goard & Garner

A duo of dedicated officers who returned to work the day after being sprayed in the face with ammonia and threatened with a gun to help secure the conviction of an extremely dangerous offender have been nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards 2024.

Police were contacted by a man in Mitchum, at around 11pm on 7 June 2022, stating there was a male and female standing next to his vehicle appearing to be having an argument. A sound like a gun shot was heard.

After midnight police were called again as the same suspect had returned and was searching under a member of public’s vehicle to recover the live rounds of ammunition and the spent casing after a firearm was discharged.

PC Samuel Goard and PC George Garner attended the scene and approached a male, who we now know to be James Boyle, and attempted to speak to him - asking him to take his hands out of his pockets.

Boyle then pulled out a bottle and sprayed the officer in the face with ammonia before moving towards him. Despite only being able to see out of one eye, the officer managed to use his PAVA spray which caused the suspect to turn around and flee.

PC Goard said in his victim impact statement: “At the time of the incident I was in complete fear for my life. I did not know what the male had sprayed at me. Thoughts of acid, ammonia, or any liquid that could have caused me irreversible injuries to my eye, sight, or permanent disfigurement to my face overcame me.

“My thoughts turned to my son at home. Was he going to grow up only knowing me as having a disfigured face, will he recognise me when I go home?"

The pair chased Boyle, when he suddenly pulled out a handgun from his waistband and pointed it toward the officers – without firing it – before escaping on foot.

An investigation was launched, and detectives spent hours collating and trawling through CCTV, leading them to identifying their suspect.

He was located and arrested by officers on 24 June 2022. During a search of his home address, the firearm Boyle used to threaten officers, and fired prior to police arrival, was recovered along with rounds of ammunition. The ammunition and the bottle containing the liquid both provided forensic matches to Boyle.

PC Garner said in his impact statement: “When he pulled the gun on me, I felt powerless and had to let him run away. I was left with the same recurring thought – if it was so easy to point a gun at a police officer what would he do to a member of the public?

“I returned to work the day after the incident. I love my job and didn’t want what happened to affect me or make me fearful, but it is a terrifying reminder the most routine call could end up being something that could change my life, or the lives of my loved ones, forever.”

James Boyle was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court on 13 March 2023.

Metropolitan Police Federation Chair Rick Prior said: “Despite knowing this offender was dangerous as he’d just sprayed ammonia in PC Goard’s face, the two officers fearlessly chased him down. They worked brilliantly as a team and their quick thinking and communication with colleagues meant that the offender was detained and ultimately convicted.

“I have no doubt that Boyle would have caused further harm, if he was not identified and arrested so quickly. PC Goard was very fortunate not to have suffered lasting injury. Police officers routinely put themselves in harm’s way, but no one should have to come home from work having been assaulted in the course of their duty.”

Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Woodsford, from Specialist Crime, said: “Boyle is an extremely dangerous offender, and we are pleased the overwhelming evidence gathered during our investigation left him with no choice but to plead guilty. We have no doubt he would have caused further harm was he not identified and arrested so quickly.

“The officers’ achievements have been exceptional, and they have all delivered well beyond what we would have expected of them. In addition to those to be commended for their investigation, PC Goard and PC Garner are to be commended for their bravery and dedication to duty.

“The suspect at the time of the incident was unidentified and posed a huge risk to the public and police. This nomination is to recognise the bravery of the two injured officers, who in the face of an ammonia attack and a live firearm thought about the public and returned to work the next day to try and help with the investigation.”

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