A man who doused two police officers in petrol before setting one of them on fire in Newquay has been jailed for ten-and-a-half years.
Blagovest Hadjigueorguiev left army veteran PC Darral Mares with severe burns to his legs and hand after he was engulfed in flames during the horrific incident in September.
PC Mares, who was saved from further serious injury by the quick actions of his colleague, PC Alan Lenton, is still continuing on his long road to recovery.
The officer, from Devon & Cornwall Police, has issued a heartfelt thank-you to all those who have helped him and to the many well-wishers from around the world for their ‘humbling’ messages of support.
Bulgarian national Hadjigueorguiev, aged 30, of no fixed abode, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on PC Mares with intent and attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm with intent on PC Lenton.
He was sentenced to ten-and-a-half years in prison by Judge Robert Linford at Truro Crown Court on Friday 6th November.
PCs Mares and Lenton were called to a field next to Trevenson Road on the morning of Friday 11 September to support bailiffs tasked with evicting the offender from the land.
They were met with resistance from Hadjigueorguiev and a threat to ‘set them on fire’.
He had unscrewed the lid from a glass cider bottle containing petrol and remained close to a home-made cooker with a naked flame.
Hadjigueorguiev then doused both police officers in the liquid as they approached and tried to take hold of him.
The fuel then ignited, and PC Mares was engulfed in flames.
With no thought for his own safety, PC Lenton grabbed his colleague, pulled him away from the fire and rolled him in the long grass to extinguish the flames.
He removed burnt clothing from PC Mares before applying handcuffs to Hadjigueorguiev, who had been bravely restrained on the ground by bailiffs Matthew McLaren and Peter Temlett.
Within minutes several police officers from Newquay Police station, including an off-duty PC, arrived at the scene.
The fire service and paramedics followed before PC Mares was taken to hospital by Cornwall Air Ambulance with significant burns to his left hand and both legs.
Detective Inspector Daniel Massey, who led the investigation, praised the work of all involved in capturing evidence to help bring Hadjigueorguiev to justice.
“This incident reflects the dangers and challenges the police face on a daily basis, despite this force area being one of the safest places to live.
“It also accurately shows how we and our partners can work so well together, regardless of how bad things are, in order to do the right thing.
“I am fortunate to personally know Darral and Al, and I am pleased to report that Darral is now on the road to recovery.”
PC Mares said:
“My recuperation process is still ongoing, I am healing well and at this stage expected to recover without any further hospitalisation.
“Irrelevant of the sentencing result, my priority has always been my recovery and returning to full physical fitness.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who assisted me or my family on the day of the incident and also the incredible NHS staff at Treliske [hospital] and the Derriford Burns Unit.
“Over the past few months, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Newquay has worked relentlessly to proceed with this case.
“I would personally like to thank the team for all their hard work.
“We have been overwhelmed with the support from my colleagues, friends and the local community.
“I have received numerous kind gifts, videos and written messages of goodwill from persons unknown to me from all over the UK and as far away as Australia.
“This has been not only very humbling but a beneficial distraction to the incident.
“Sadly, since my incident, officers in London were subject to an attack and more prominently in the news was the tragic death of Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was shot dead on duty in Croydon.
“Officers and staff know they have to take risks on occasions and understand that it comes with the nature of policing, but being assaulted on duty should never be condoned and seen as ‘part of the job’.”
PC Lenton added:
“For all of us who were involved, directly or indirectly, the events of that day will always live with us, and I hope we never have to deal with such a cowardly act again.
“The great news is that, after visiting Darral and his family, he will recover and I look forward to his humour and camaraderie in the office.
“I would be like to take this opportunity to extend both my and my family’s gratitude to colleagues/friends for their support following the assault.
“To mention all those who have sent kind words and gifts would take too long, but they know who they are, thank you. The messages have helped massively.
“Special mention for my wife Tammy and Matthew, James and Hannah for their continued understanding and empathy.”
Can you help Emergency Services News?
Our mission is simple: To share fact-based stories about the emergency services and the life-saving work they do daily. Each member of our team has served in either the armed forces or emergency services.
We use our frontline experiences to help inform the general public about the realities of serving in the emergency services, armed forces and NHS.
But with ad income declining – owing to the pandemic – we need the help of our readers and supporters so that we can keep bringing you fact-based stories which are free from the ‘anti’ narrative which is often projected by some sections of the mainstream media.
You can help us by making a one-off or reoccurring donation via Paypal. CLICK HERE to become a donor
We would like to thank you in advance for your continued support.
BEFORE YOU GO – we have negotiated a fantastic deal from our partners at ‘Blue Light Insurance’ (see below) exclusively for Emergency Services News readers – limited time only.
Before you go...
We need your help. As former emergency services & armed forces personnel, we pride ourselves on bringing you important, fast-moving and breaking news stories which are free from the negative bias which is often directed at the emergency services by some sections of the mainstream media.
One of the reasons we started 'Emergency Services News' was because we became tired of reading badly informed stories about the emergency services which seemed only ever to highlight negative aspects of the job.
We want to be the unheard voice of the remarkable men and women who serve in the emergency services, NHS and armed forces. And with around 500k page views each month, we are getting there!
As income from ads, the mainstay source of income for most publishers, continues to decline; we need the help of our readers.
And remember, if you have a service, product or job vacancy that you would like to promote to our large readership, then you can buy advertising space in our articles.
You can support emergency services news from as little as £1. It only takes a minute. Every contribution, however big or small, is vital for our future.
Please help us to continue to highlight the life-saving work of the emergency services, NHS and armed forces by becoming a supporter.