PC sprayed in face with ammonia feared his son's reaction after attack

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A police officer has described the moment he thought he had been disfigured when he was sprayed in the face by a man who then threatened him with a gun.

PC Samuel Goard was answering a call to reports of people acting suspiciously around cars shortly after midnight on June 17 in Mitcham, south London.

While on Commonside East, he asked James Boyle, 22, to take his hand out of his pockets. When he did, he pulled a bottle of ammonia out and sprayed it into PC Goard’s face.

Despite only being able to see out of one eye, he managed to spray Boyle with pepper spray and they ran in opposite directions.

Speaking at Boyle’s sentencing, PC Goard said: ‘At the time of the incident I was in complete fear for my life.

‘I did not know what the male had sprayed at me. Thoughts of acid, ammonia or any liquid that could have caused me irreversible injuries to my eye, sight, or permanent disfigurement to my face overcame me.

‘My thoughts turned to my son at home, was he going to grow up only knowing me as having a disfigured face, will he recognise me when I go home?’

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PC Goard and his colleague PC George Garner chased after Boyle who then pulled out a handgun from his waistband.

He pointed it toward the officers without firing it and then ran away.

He was arrested by officers the next week after CCTV located Boyle. He was found with a knife and an axe in his rucksack along with a drinks bottle containing ammonia.

PC Garner added: ‘When he [Boyle] pulled the gun on me I felt powerless and had to let him run away. I was left with the same recurring thought – if it was so easy to point a gun at a police officer what would he do to a member of the public?

‘I returned to work the day after the incident. I love my job and didn’t want what happened to affect me or make me fearful, but it is a terrifying reminder that the most routine call could end up being something that could change my life or the lives of my loved ones forever.’

Boyle, of Pulross Road in Brixton, was sentenced to 16 years at Kingston Crown Court yesterday for a string of offences.

He admitted administering a poison or noxious substance with intent, possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, using a firearm with intent, assault, possession of a knife and an axe as well as having a corrosive substance in a public place.

Detective chief inspector Rebecca Woodsford said: ‘Boyle is an extremely dangerous offender and we are pleased that the overwhelming evidence gathered during our investigation left him with no choice but to plead guilty.

‘We have no doubt that he would have caused further harm was he not identified and arrested so quickly.

‘My thoughts remain with the officers involved in this incident who are fortunate not to have suffered lasting injury. Police officers routinely put themselves in harm’s way but no-one should have to come home from work having being assaulted in the course of their duty.’

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