Police risk lives to fish out suspect

PUBLISHED: 14:22 04 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:53 04 May 2010

Officers search for clues on the river-bank on Monday.	Photo: IAN BIRT

Officers search for clues on the river-bank on Monday. Photo: IAN BIRT

THREE police officers and a dog risked their lives in freezing water to catch a man wanted in connection with a series of armed raids. The hour-long pursuit in the River Delph at Welney started when the man flipped his car after police from West Norfolk C

THREE police officers and a dog risked their lives in freezing water to catch a man wanted in connection with a series of armed raids.

The hour-long pursuit in the River Delph at Welney started when the man flipped his car after police from West Norfolk Constabulary ordered him to stop.

The man fled into the marshland and the 24-year-old female driver remained injured in the car.

All the officers involved have asked to remain anonymous, but one has described his experience.

The dog handler said: "As the tracker, I went into the water first with my dog and the other two followed.

"I thought it would just be up to our knees, so I jumped in and ended up in thick sludge up to my neck.

"It was freezing cold, and our protective clothing and belt rings were weighing us down and there were a few times we thought we were in trouble.

"But the adrenaline took over and we were determined to find him."

An hour later the officers, who were struggling with the onset of hypothermia, found the man holding on to a tree.

The suspect passed out and the officers had to drag themselves and the suspect out of the water.

The officer said: "We were completely exhausted. The dog was exhausted and panicky, so he was on my shoulders, and we kept sinking and sinking.

"But eventually we found a bit of higher ground and some water so we just swam into it."

The drama unfolded just before 10pm on Saturday when a 43-year-old man travelling in a car on the A1101 from Wisbech towards Littleport failed to stop for police, who recognised him as a suspect in their investigation into a series of armed raids.

He fled the car, leaving behind the 24-year-old female driver, who was injured in the crash.

Police used thermal imaging equipment to track the suspect, who had crawled through undergrowth and reeds.

The man and the officers were all taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, for treatment for hypothermia and were later discharged. The officers all returned to work on Sunday for their next night shift.

Chief Supt Tony Cherington said: "The officers used their skills and instincts to carry out what was a very brave operation. They thought nothing of risking their own safety to bring the matter to conclusion."

The man was arrested in connection with a series of armed raids on homes and businesses across west Norfolk and the Fens, carried out during a two-week period last month.

The 24-year-old woman, who suffered minor injuries, was arrested at the scene, and both have been released on bail.

n Two men and a woman were arrested in a house on Millfield, Littleport in connection with the raids, last week. They were also released on police bail.

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