Brave constable speaks about impact of knife attack after man responsible is jailed
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A police officer who was slashed across the face by a man he was trying to arrest for robbery has spoken of the impact the attack has had on his life.
PC Steve Reid, an officer with 20 years’ service, was responding to a report of a robbery in Derby on the night of Tuesday 15 October 2019.
When PC Reid and a colleague, PC Ronnie Korbiel arrived, they found a man matching the suspect’s description and tried to arrest him.
It was then that the suspect – Richard Jefford – produced a knife and slashed PC Reid twice across the face. He required 15 stitches and has been left with permanent scarring.
Officers eventually deployed a Taser to detain Jefford, who today has been sentenced to ten years in prison after pleading guilty to causing grievous harm with intent.
PC Reid, a married father-of-three, said: “I don’t fully recall when I first saw my injuries in the resuscitation room at hospital, but it’s fair to say that I had not expected to be the victim of such an unprovoked and vicious assault. To say I was horrified by my injuries would be an understatement and it took a while to get stitched up.
“Everyone who saw me in person with my stitches in, and afterwards as the wounds were healing, found it to be very shocking but I was very lucky. The slash to the top of my temple went past my eye onto my nose, then caught the top of my upper lip. Had I not moved back, probably through instinct, I may have lost the sight in my left eye. With regards the left side of my face, again had I not moved back then from the initial knife marks, there were red scratch marks which continued to travel after I was cut and stopped at my carotid artery on the neck. I realise it could have been very different and could have killed me. This would have left my wife and children without a husband or father and just re-living that possible scenario makes me go cold and shiver.
“All my children have ever known is their dad being a police officer since they were born and going out each shift not knowing what I will have to deal with.
“You do deal with some very difficult situations and incidents, often shielding the people around you from exactly what you have dealt with, but in this case, there was no hiding what had gone off. My wife spoke with my children before they saw me so they could prepare for what they saw.”
PC Reid struggled to sleep following the attack and has felt self-conscious because of the scarring he has suffered.
He added: “The impact it has had on me has changed me massively. The following week after my injuries, I was struggling to sleep because of the pain on the side of my face. I only get a few hours’ sleep at best and the impact of this made me feel fatigued constantly.
“Even on hot days I would be out in a hoodie and baseball cap in an effort to cover my face, I would wear a baseball cap just to answer the front door and try to cover my face with the door frame. “Everything I did where a member of the public may see me, I consciously wore a baseball cap to cover my face. I felt that even though my scars were healing on the outside they were not on the inside.
“Mr Jefford will serve his sentence and hopefully be able to get on with the rest of his life. Every time my wife looks at me, for the rest of our lives, she will see the scarring on my face. Scars that can never be hidden with make-up or clothing. As our grandchildren grow older, they will ask; “Grandad, what are those lines on your face?” The psychological damage will never fully heal, the scars will be there as a constant reminder. I loved being frontline police officer but have become a shadow of my former self.”
The trial began in December 2020 but was adjourned. The trial was due to re-start in July but Jefford changed his plea to guilty.
Attacks on police officers not acceptable
Chief Constable Rachel Swann said: “Steve is an outstanding officer who has served the communities of Derbyshire for two decades. He was doing his duty when he tried to apprehend Jefford but was subjected to a terrible attack.
“I know that his physical and mental scars are still healing as a result of this incident and I can only imagine the trauma that Steve and his family must have experienced as a result.
“While policing requires officers and staff to handle difficult and hostile situations, assaults upon them are serious and unacceptable and should not be tolerated - they are not simply part of the job.
“The public call upon us to help them when they are most in need. We have a duty to protect the public but we are all too often prevented from doing so due to violent individuals who choose to attack those who are there to help them.”