'Split second' decision saved station and bystanders from a petrol blast
WITH no regard for his own life, quick-thinking Sergeant Rob Bateman sprung into action when Martin Williams threatened to set fire to Longton Police Station.
Williams, of Heathcote Street, Sandford Hill, poured five litres of petrol over himself and the reception area of the Sutherland Road building on September 11 last year and was attempting to ignite the fuel with a cigarette lighter.
Realising what devastating effects this could have, without hesitation, Sgt Bateman discharged his CS canister into Williams's face and grabbed hold of both his arms, forcing him out of the police station and away from the petrol fumes, while seizing the cigarette lighter out of his hand.
Despite being visually impaired and overcome by petrol fumes, Sgt Bateman then arrested the man and kept him under control until officers came to his assistance.
Forty-two-year-old Williams was later handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and a Supervision Order for two years. He was also made subject of curfew restrictions for four months.
Chief Superintendent Bernie O'Reilly, below, said: "There is no doubt that, had the man been in a position to ignite his lighter, the resultant explosion would have killed them both, as well as causing serious injuries to two members of the public nearby and significant damage to the police station.
"I am delighted to reward Sergeant Bateman for his remarkable bravery and courageous actions."
Thirty four-year-old Sgt Bateman, who is based at Longton Police Station, said: "I had to make a split second decision. I was just walking in to deal with a lady and her son who had been waiting a little bit too long when it happened. I saw the man had a lighter and just knew I had to do something.
"It was quite frightening to be honest but as a police officer you can't run away from things."
He added: "It is very nice to get recognised but it was even nicer to get home that night."