THE attempted murder of Pc Suzanne Hudson in Leeds highlights the “very real dangers and serious risks” police face across the country every day while on duty, according to a senior Yorkshire officer.
Gunman James Leslie, who blasted the officer on his doorstep then laughed as he cycled away from the scene, was yesterday convicted of attempted murder after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.
The 38-year-old shot Pc Hudson through his front door as she and colleague Pc Richard Whiteley made routine inquiries about a neighbour dispute in Leeds last December. He will be sentenced in October.
Pc Hudson needed emergency surgery on arteries in her neck after the shooting. Her right hand was shredded by shotgun pellets.
Chief Superintendent Paul Money, district commander for Leeds, said he was proud of the two officers, who were still dealing with the impact of what had happened to them.
Prosecutors said it was only a matter of luck that the attack did not kill Pc Hudson, whose carotid artery and jugular vein had to be repaired by a surgeon.
Nick Smart, of the Police Federation’s West Yorkshire branch said: “We in West Yorkshire are all too familiar with officers being murdered in the line of duty over the past decade, as we have suffered the tragic losses of Pc Ian Broadhurst and Pc Sharon Beshenivsky.
“This latest incident, had it not been for the courageous and quick actions of Pc Hudson and Whiteley, could have so easily ended up in a double fatality of two more police officers.”
He added: “Officers are being single-crewed more often and it was just fortunate Suzy wasn’t on her own on this occasion. Had she been, the situation could have been much worse.
“People may want to gloss over this by saying that such incidents are infrequent, but we would vehemently disagree with that – the inherent dangers are there and are becoming more prevalent.”
In his statement, Mr Money said: “This case highlights the very real dangers and serious risks that police officers face as they go about their routine daily business – if such a thing exists – keeping the public of Leeds safe.
“In this case Pc Hudson and Pc Whiteley were investigating a report of low level criminal damage in the early hours of a winter’s morning.”
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said: “This shooting was an appalling act of violence on a policewoman who serves to protect our community in Headingley and Hyde Park. Anyone who carries out such awful acts must be brought to justice.”
Plans to give “whole-life tariffs” to police killers are going through Parliament, though attacking a public official is already considered an aggravating feature of any offence when judges are passing sentence.
West Yorkshire crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said current sentences “generally reflect the gravity” of offences committed against police officers.
Brave officer praised: Page 9.