Today marks 10 years since the murder of Pc Ian Broadhurst in Leeds. Sam Casey revisits a case that shocked the nation.
When traffic officers Ian Broadhurst and Neil Roper approached a suspected stolen car in the Fearnville area of Leeds on December 26, 2003, there was no indication of the mortal danger they were walking into.
The pair, who had spotted that the black BMW may have false plates, went to speak to the driver, who was sitting inside reading the Racing Post.
Unbeknown to the two officers, the hulking man behind the wheel of the car was a steroid-obsessed fugitive killer who had stolen the identity of a dead child in his native United States before fleeing to the UK. He had already spent eight years on British soil evading justice.
The suspect – who gave a false name – was unnervingly cold under questioning. Well-founded suspicions that he was concealing both the truth about his own personal details and a potential weapon gave Pcs Broadhurst and Roper cause to call for back-up.
But as Pc Roper attempted to handcuff him, he pulled a 9mm gun from his pocket and fired without warning.
Pc Roper was shot twice but managed to escape. James Banks, who had arrived to provide support, remarkably survived being shot as the bullet lodged in his police radio. Pc Broadhurst was hit twice. The first shot to his chest may well have proved fatal, but Bieber ensured he had no chance of surviving by shooting him in the head as he lay pleading for his life on the ground.
Having killed one policeman and seriously injured another, the gunman calmly left the scene, threatened a couple who were out shopping and stole their car to make his getaway.
Detective Superintendent Chris Gregg was the senior investigating officer on call that day. He said it was crucial not to let the emotion of the news that a colleague had been murdered cloud the investigation.
“All that’s running through your mind is getting the investigation on track,” he said. “I personally approached it not in a detached way but in the same way as any other investigation.”
Inquiries progressed rapidly. The stolen BMW and the Racing Post the gunman had been reading yielded fingerprints. Public appeals gave police a name – Nathan Wayne Coleman – and an address.
When they broke into a storage facility on Roseville Road in Leeds that was being used by the man calling himself Coleman, they got a chilling insight into the extent of the danger he posed. The unit contained a bullet-making machine capable of producing hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Disturbingly, a CCTV camera had recorded the killer entering the facility two days after Pc Broadhurst’s death to collect his home-made arsenal.
Four days after the shooting, the FBI matched fingerprints from the BMW to those of David Bieber – a fugitive who was wanted for a murder in 1995.
The net finally closed in when Bieber checked into the Royal Hotel guesthouse in Gateshead in the early hours of New Year’s Eve. A staff member recognised him from a photograph published in a national newspaper.
Armed police were called to carry out the arrest. The gun used to murder Pc Broadhurst was found under Bieber’s mattress.
He was jailed in December 2004 and told he would never be released. Four years later the Court of Appeal reduced his sentence to a minimum of 37 years.
Today, serving officers laid a wreath at Pc Broadhurst’s memorial at the spot where he died a decade ago.
Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds district commander, said: “Although it is 10 years since Pc Ian Broadhurst was murdered in the line of duty, the passage of time will never lessen the shocking impact his death has had on his family, friends and colleagues, as well as on the organisation as a whole.
“Ian remains very much in all our thoughts and it is important that we formally mark the anniversary of his death at the memorial that marks the spot where he fell.” He added that the recent shooting of Pc Suzanne Hudson in Headingley, Leeds, acted as a stark reminder of the risks police face.
“Thankfully very few have had to make the ultimate sacrifice that Ian did,” he said.
Steve Lloyd, manager of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, added: “Tragic events like this can fade in the public memory but the trust is pleased to say officers killed in the line of duty will never be forgotten by us. Our motto is ‘lest we forget’ and hopefully our role proves these are not just hollow words.”