Bravery award for police officer who wrestled axeman on West Ham train

London Underground Area Commander Chf Sup Paul Brogden, Pc Steven Donnelly; Insp John Sanderson; Chf

London Underground Area Commander Chf Sup Paul Brogden, Pc Steven Donnelly; Insp John Sanderson; Chf Con Andrew Trotter - Credit: Archant

An off-duty police officer who wrestled an axe from a dangerous passenger on a train received an award for his bravery on Friday.

Insp John Sanderson was presented with a Certficate of Commendation along with West Ham-based officers Pc Steven Donnelly and Pc Tabatha Virdee who arrested the suspect shortly afterwards.

The man was brandishing the axe at commuters on board a train at West Ham underground station in June 2011 where he was described as walking the length of several carriages in a highly agitated and dangerous state.

Insp Sanderson was on his way home from work as a Stockwell-based officer with the British Transport Police when he tackled the man, disarming him of the weapon during a violent struggle but the suspect ran off.

Speaking at the ceremony in central London, Insp Sanderson said: “When I saw he had an axe I just reacted instinctively to protect the passengers on the train.


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“People in this job do things like this all the time and that’s what we’re here for.”

Later that day, Pc Donnelly and Pc Virdee spotted the man later on the edge of a platform at Bromley-by-Bow station dousing himself in a flammable liquid.

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As they approached the man, they realised he was in possession of a lighter and managed to detain him after a struggle.

They later found out the suspect had also inappropriately touched a woman at Stepney Green station earlier that day and he was jailed for four years.

Pc Donnelly said: “I just felt I was doing my job and happy to have taken someone off the Underground who was a danger and put him in prison.”

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