Police Federation

North Wales

PC Rob Williamson, PC Rob Burgess, PC Rachael Roberts, PC Dion Hughes and PS Dylan Thomas

A team of unarmed officers who were faced with an aggressive man with a loaded gun, who was putting his vulnerable mother’s life at risk, have been nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards 2024 for their courageous and swift actions.

At around midnight on 7 April 2023, North Wales Police received a 999 call from a distressed female reporting an ongoing verbal argument with her adult son, Bobby Lee Hughes, at their home address in Holyhead. During the 999 call, the woman described how her son had experienced a “massive blow-out”.

Not long after, Hughes’ sister also contacted Cheshire Police to report the same concerns for her brother, who was also causing damage within the house.

She was on the phone with her mother at the time the events were unfolding, and reported being very concerned for her mother whom she described as “disabled and vulnerable”.

Sergeant Dylan Thomas, PC Rachael Roberts, PC Rob Burgess, PC Dion Hughes, and PC Rob Williamson were sent to the house, after being informed by the Force Control Centre there had been a mention of a gun during the 999 call.

Hughes’ mother told officers her son was inside and was highly aggressive. Almost immediately, Hughes was shouting at them to back off as he had a gun.

Sergeant Thomas soon found himself looking down the barrel of a gun, aimed directly towards him by Hughes who was stood at the top of the stairs.

The officers, who were in his line of sight, deemed the threat of violence to be extremely high and so Sergeant Thomas, PC Roberts and PC Hughes all deployed their Tasers simultaneously. The Taser discharge was part effective causing Hughes to fall onto his front, resulting in the rifle falling down the stairs.

Hughes managed to crawl and return to his bedroom which was located directly on the right upon ascending the stairs.

Unaware at the time he was no longer in possession of the firearm, PC Hughes repeatedly commanded Hughes to drop the gun and come out from where he was hiding.

Suddenly, he appeared directly in front of the officers. PC Williamson entered the bedroom with his colleagues where he was detained, arrested, and subsequently charged with possession of an air rifle with intent to cause fear of violence.

Firearms officers examined the rifle and noted it had been cocked ready for use and there was a pellet within the chamber which was ready to be fired.

On 3 August 2023, Hughes was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Looking back at the entire incident, Sergeant Thomas said he has “a family to go home to and a community to carry on policing”, and questioned what the outcome could have been for him, his colleagues and their families had they not taken that split-second action.

North Wales Police Federation Chair Vinny Jones said: “I am extremely proud of my colleagues involved in this incident and highlight their bravery and courage in dealing with this incident with true selflessness.

“They were faced with a situation which could have potentially ended their life and instead of taking cover, their instinct was to neutralise the threat thus preventing any harm to anyone. Interestingly, they all made the same decision in their actions.

“They all have different policing backgrounds and experience, yet they all acted in the same way. I’m often asked what it takes to be police officer – this is a prime example of the answer, having to make quick decisions when faced with an immediate threat whilst doing our duty to protect and uphold our oath. This incident should be a reminder to everyone just how valuable our police officers are as we are the ones who run towards danger when the time comes.”

Chief Superintendent Sian Beck, Head of Local Policing Services at North Wales Police, said:

"The officers in this incident responded to the report of a violent domestic incident between a mother and her son who has several warning markers indicating mental health, weapons, drugs and suicidal.

“His mother, a vulnerable lady, gave conflicting and confusing information about her son being in possession of a gun. The report came into NWP during nighttime hours in Holyhead which is at the extremity of the force with limited scope for assistance and the nearest armed assets being some distance away.

“The officers responded to the incident without delay, putting the victim’s safety ahead of their own. At the address, they were faced with the threat from the weapon and acted decisively, professionally and with excellent communication, safely detaining the male and ensuring the safety of his mother. When faced with the immediate threat, they acted with outstanding bravery.”

Deputy Chief Constable of North Wales Police, Nigel Harrison said: “This is incredibly impactive as officers only in possession of a Taser moved forward to protect the occupant from an individual making threats with a firearm. I commend all the officers for their bravery and selflessness.”

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