Officers who were doused in petrol praised for their bravery and restraint

The chief constable of Essex Police, Ben-Julian Harrington, has praised the response, bravery and restraint shown by eight officers who were doused with petrol while arresting a motorcyclist at an event in Canvey in May this year.

Nov 8, 2019
By Tony Thompson

Officers had witnessed a motorbike performing wheelies, driving across pedestrianised areas and travelling on the wrong side of the road, almost colliding with a car. With the support of a helicopter, police followed the rider to Ward Close in Basildon. Several officers drew their Tasers to affect the arrest.

While arresting the rider and detaining a number of others, the officers were attacked by Justin Jackson, who ran up to them from behind armed with a red watering can full of petrol before covering them with the substance.

Initially the officers thought they had been splashed with a disfiguring acid or bleach, but when they realised it was petrol they feared being set alight.

Two required immediate hospital treatment after swallowing some of the liquid while six others were treated by emergency partners at the scene for either burns or petrol in their eyes. Despite this, all eight officers were back on duty the same day.

Superintendent Jonathan Baldwin, who was one of the eight victims that day, said: “The events of that day will always remain with me. I know when I speak on behalf of the other seven officers who found themselves being doused in petrol by Jackson that it will stay with us for a long time.

”It’s not the physical effects of feeling the burning on your arm, the stinging in your eyes – that all passes fairly quickly – it’s the fact now that every time I attend an operational incident there is the thought in the back of my mind that takes me back to that moment when somebody shouted ‘petrol, petrol, petrol!’

“What makes me most proud is that none of the officers covered in petrol and taken to hospital took any time off sick. They came back to work with fortitude, conviction and dedication because they don’t just do the job for themselves, they do the job for the public.”

Justin Jackson, 28, of Ward Close, Basildon, received three years and nine months in prison for eight counts of administering a noxious substance with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy at Basildon Crown Court yesterday (November 7).

On the same day Janine Justin, 47, of Ward Close, Basildon, was found guilty of possession of an offensive weapon and received nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months. She was fined £140 and was ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work. She had threatened the officers with a hammer.

Judge Samantha Cohen, who presided over the case, also praised the officers, calling them a credit to their force.

The motorcyclist involved in the incident, a 17-year-old from Basildon was sentenced at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on August 16 for driving a motor vehicle dangerously. He was disqualified from driving for 12 months and fined.

Mr Harrington said: “When the news broke that eight Essex Police officers were attacked in such a horrendous way, it sent shockwaves through our force. I felt it just like everybody else.

“The officers were out protecting the public doing their duty. Their response, their restraint and their bravery was first class.

“Officers know that they will have to face danger and confrontation, but this does not mean it is acceptable. I am pleased that the courts today have recognised this by imprisoning Justin Jackson for his crime.

“It was no surprise that all of the officers carried on their shifts that night and ever since, but I know they will still be feeling the emotional effects from that day and we will continue to support them.

“I want to thank them on behalf of the whole force and the people of Essex for their determination and courage. They are a true testament to the what British policing is all about.

“No officer should ever get attacked for doing their job – protecting and serving our communities to keep them safe. I know we have the support of the public in doing this and officers and staff know they have my support.”

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