Colchester: Officers commended for rescuing pensioner from sex offender
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Roads Policing officers PC James Ireland and PC Dan Bellingham received commendations from Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington for their instinctive police work in rescuing an elderly woman from a known sex offender.
James and Dan, who are based at Stanway, were out on patrol when an old van attracted their attention.
The officers drew up alongside and saw a man driving with an elderly woman in the passenger seat. She was 93 years old.
“We stopped the vehicle, and a tangled web unfolded. The driver was in his 50s and there was just something not right about him. He looked very worried and nervous. “I got an account from the woman, James got an account from the man and their stories didn’t match. She thought she was going home – she lived in London – but the van was heading towards Clacton. “She was adamant she was going back to London. But then he said ‘No, no, we’re going back to Clacton’ to her and she said ‘No, we’re going back to London, we’re going home’. So it’s clear she didn’t understand what was going on. He was taking her to see his brother in Clacton. “We asked the woman what she wanted to do and he said ‘If you want to take her, that’s fine’, which was really strange. “So, we decided that we’re not letting her go. She would have been happy to go but I think she would have suffered some great harm when she reached her destination.” PC Dan Bellingham
The woman’s main concern was that she didn’t have anything in the fridge at home so the officers wouldn’t be able to have a cup of tea back at her house.
“We got her home, made her a cup of tea and made sure she had means of contact, that her heating was on and she had everything she needed. Then we let the local authority know she was at home and needed a visit from them.” PC Dan Bellingham
The officers then contacted MOSOVO – our team managing sexual and violent offenders – and their Metropolitan Police equivalent.
It transpired that the elderly woman was a friend of the van driver’s late mother. Her will had been altered to make the man and his brother the main beneficiaries. She had also been persuaded to cease contact with her family.
“It was shocking to hear what he’d been doing but it was like the penny dropping for us. We knew it wasn’t right. The fact he was doing that was shocking but not a surprise. “The woman was very vulnerable. He’d taken advantage of her and would have continued to do that. From the day we became involved that ceased. “I feel very proud but, as the Chief said in his speech, it’s just what we do. When things do go well, it’s good when you get a pat on the back and get told you’ve done a good job.” PC James Ireland
“This was tremendous police work. The officers trusted their instincts, asked the right questions and recognised the vulnerability of the victim. “Our officers are here to help people, keep people safe and catch criminals and this is exactly what PC Bellingham and PC Ireland did. Their quick-thinking led to the discovery of a substantial fraud and returned the elderly woman to her safety of her home from the hands of a known offender.” Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington
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