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Sussex Police Federation

Gatwick Officers Nominated For National Police Bravery Awards

29 September 2020

Two Sussex Police Officers who stopped a knife-wielding man causing what he threatened would be a massacre at Gatwick Airport have been nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.

PC Matthew Parnell and PC Sean Grainger were the first to arrive on the scene at the popular and populated airport after reports came in from the public that a man had made clear – in his words – to ‘cause a massacre’ and had made ‘threats to kill’ while brandishing two kitchen knives.

Updates revealed that the man in question had been seen striding around South Terminal in the early hours of June 3 last year.

Terrified staff managed to evacuate the area before PCs Parnell and Grainger swiftly arrived. The pair confronted the man who was carrying a knife in each hand, but he continued towards them brandishing the weapons.

Both firearms officers, PC Grainger aimed his Taser at the suspect while PC Parnell pointed his G36 rifle at the man in a bid to defuse the situation.

The man threw down the knives but continued to approach the officers. At that point they did not know whether he was concealing further weapons so after administering warnings, they Tasered him in order to bring the threat under control.

Colleagues then arrived to help make the arrest.

At Lewes Crown Court in September 2020, the suspect Adam Russell admitted possessing a weapon and affray. He was ordered to take part in mental health treatment.

Sussex Police Federation Chairman Daren Egan said the courageous officers had demonstrated exemplary policing and saved lives – including that of the suspect.

“PC Parnell and PC Grainger were incredibly brave to run towards the danger and get this individual under arrest as quickly as possible,” he said. “They could not have known the assailant’s intentions – especially given where the incident took place, being an international airport on a busy summer’s day.

“Police officers have to make split-second decisions which can be then looked over with the power of hindsight. So the fact these officers managed to calmly and courageously control and contain the incident without any loss of life is an incredible achievement.

“I am certain the people of Sussex are very grateful to them. We’re certainly very proud of them both, and they are worthy nominees for this award.”

The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.

As nominees, PC Grainger and PC Parnell will attend a prestigious daytime reception and evening awards ceremony in London in July 2021. The 2020 event – the 25th National Police Bravery Awards - had been scheduled to take place this past summer but had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus.

Nevertheless the Police Federation of England and Wales wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the fantastic work of all 94 nominees from across the country online.

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We are incredibly proud of all the nominees from across England and Wales. The actions of these courageous officers provide a small snapshot of the amazing work our colleagues carry out day in and day out.

“PC Matthew Parnell and PC Sean Grainger are heroes. We have seen how – sadly – some public places can be targeted for terrorist attacks and that would have been running through these officers’ minds as they ran towards the danger. But they nullified it without any loss of life. Simply great police work. We are very proud of them.

“As a Police Federation, we wanted to make sure these brave officers received the recognition they deserve in the year their actions were meant to be celebrated. And we look forward to seeing them all in person – and revealing regional and national winners - when the time is right in 2021.”

The National Police Bravery Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.

John Perks, Chief Executive Officer of Police Mutual, said: “Police Mutual is, as always, proud to be supporting the National Police Bravery Awards in its 25th anniversary year. Despite having to postpone the original ceremony, the officers’ courage has never been forgotten – they all showed commitment to keeping the public safe in the most demanding of circumstances.

“We very much look forward to meeting all the nominated officers in July 2021 for the ceremony, and our chance to give our thanks in person.”