The selfless bravery of a police officer following a fatal knife attack in Honiton has been recognised with a bravery award. It was one of two police commendations awarded this week as a result of work carried out by local officers following the shocking incident.
PC Frances Custance received the bravery award from Chief Superintendent Sam de Reya at a presentation witnessed by the Mayor of Honiton, Councillor John Zarczynski, in Exeter.
The police officer was first on the scene following a violent, unprovoked attack on a workman at Kingdom Hall in Dowell Street.
Keith Beviss, 55, was suffering from a delusional disorder when he stabbed 55-year-old Philip Ryan to death on 6 June in 2017. He was charged with murder but later admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was made the subject of a hospital order.
PC Custance, together with paramedics, located Mr Ryan with a knife embedded in his neck.
The commendation citation said: “Not knowing if the offender was still on scene or anyone else injured, PC Custance bravely searched the building for other people. PC Custance also assisted paramedics and secured the scene while awaiting backup from other officers.
“PC Custance showed selflessness and bravery. The suspect was charged with murder.”
Also awarded a commendation for her role in securing the scene was Lesley Dyer, who was at the time DC Lesley Carroll.
Mrs Dyer received her award from Superintendent Matthew Lawler.
Her citation stated: “Mrs Dyer (formerly DC Carroll) attended the incident, obtained witness statements and assisted with the search of the suspect’s home address.
“The ‘one team’ approach to the incident meant that evidence was secured, witness details and accounts obtained, the offender arrested and fast-track actions completed. The offender was charged with murder.”
During the ceremony at Exeter Guildhall, Chief Superintendent Sam de Reya said: “It is incredibly humbling to present these awards to our officers, staff, volunteers and partners and is certainly one of the best parts of my job.
“The passion, resilience and dedication displayed by those recognised at the awards is outstanding. Our people work tirelessly to prevent crime, detect offences, support victims and bring offenders to justice and it is right we recognise them for their contribution to keeping our communities safe.”
Those receiving commendations at the event were nominated for the awards by fellow officers, police staff and partners.