A knife-wielding man who threatened police officers before repeatedly stabbing a police dog has been jailed for more than six years.
Matthew Stretch sparked a manhunt in the Riddings area after he tried to attack a police officer who was attending an incident in High Street.
Armed with a hammer and a knife, he smashed the windows of the police vehicle and tried to assault the officer inside, who managed to escape.
Had the Officer inside of the police vehicle been armed, then he probably would not have had to run away from Stretch who was frantically wielding a knife and a hammer.
Stretch, aged 28, then ran away from the area while still in possession of the knife, triggering a search that involved our firearms unit, dog unit, and the regional police helicopter (NPAS).
Stretch was eventually cornered in woodland near Newlands Road, Golden Valley, and German Shepherd police dog Axle tried to detain him in the shallow waters of a disused canal.
During the incident, Stretch stabbed Axle three times and managed to climb out of the canal, where he was quickly confronted by armed police.
After threatening another officer with the knife, he was subdued and arrested.
Stretch, of Plantation Road, Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, was jailed for six years and seven months after pleading guilty to charges including making threats to kill, assault, threatening with a blade, and two counts of criminal damage – one of which related to stabbing PD Axle.
Campaigners behind ‘Finns Law’ have been pushing for some time now to afford better protection to service animals as, under the current law, they are treated merely as ‘property’.
Chief Constable Peter Goodman said: “The public call upon the police to help them when they are most in need.
“We have a duty to protect the public but we are all too often prevented from doing so due to violent individuals who choose to attack those who are there to help them.
“Most importantly it should be remembered that police officers and staff are people, they are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.
“When they are attacked they become victims just like any other, but victims who have been attacked while trying to protect others from being victimised.”
The incident, on July 4, left Axle needing emergency life-saving surgery at Scarsdale Veterinary Centre, on Pride Park, Derby.
The public were quite rightly extremely angry after hearing about what happened to PD Axle after pictures of the dog with the horrendous injuries went viral.
The incident also had a lasting effect on the police officers who were threatened with a knife by Stretch.
According to Derbyshire Constabulary, those officers have been supported since the incident and Mr Goodman said the lasting impact of it should not be forgotten.
He said: “Having spoken to the officers Stretch attacked, I am convinced they were both honestly in fear for their lives.
“This attack was not solely limited to police constables, as PD Axle also suffered dreadful injuries as a result of multiple stab wounds, whereby he nearly lost his life.
“While there has been a significant financial cost as a result of Stretch’s violent and unprovoked attack, this pales into insignificance when compared to the mental and physical scars that these officers will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
Derbyshire Police have put together a video (below) featuring the proud words of Chief Constable Peter Goodman and an account by PD Axle’s handler, PC Dean Allen, about the night of the attack and the aftermath, and how Axle is now thankfully fit and well.
Derbyshire Police also wrote a post in which they stated that they would:
‘like to take this opportunity to once again thank everyone who donated gifts and cards to Axle during his recovery, and for all the kind messages we received.’
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