TWO police officers have been praised by a judge and awarded £1,000 each for going ‘well beyond the call of duty’ in bravely pursuing a wanted armed man across a busy Leamington park.
Dc Paul Luke and Dc Steve Mobbs, and terrified people in the park, had no way of knowing the gun brandished by Marvin Parnell was a blank-firing starting pistol, said the judge.
Parnell was wanted for recall to prison at the time for breaching the conditions of his licence from a life sentence for his second offence of wounding with intent.
Following his recapture, the 41-year-old pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to using an imitation firearm with intent to resist arrest and possessing cocaine.
Parnell, who is of no fixed address, but formerly of Windmill Road, Leamington, was jailed for three years.
But Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him when he was finally released could depend on how much more of his life sentence he was also ordered to serve.
Prosecutor Peter Cooper said in 1997 Parnell was jailed for four years for wounding with intent after a ‘vicious and prolonged attack’ on a female prison officer with a chair leg while serving a sentence for robbery.
Then in October 2001, under the law at the time, he was given a mandatory life sentence for a second offence of wounding with intent after he slashed another man’s face with a Stanley knife in a Warwick pub, causing horrific wounds that needed more than 100 stitches.
He was ordered to serve a minimum of three-and-a-half years before the Parole Board could consider his release on licence – but in fact did not leave prison until January 2015.
But by October last year he had relapsed into using heroin and cocaine.
A decision was made for him to be recalled to prison, and his details were circulated to police officers.
On November 1, Dc Luke and Dc Mobbs were on plain-clothed duty in Leamington town centre when they spotted Parnell in Dormer Place, so identified themselves to him.
But while the officers checked if he was still wanted, Parnell pulled a pistol out of a bag he was carrying and said ‘Here we go lads,’ and pointed the gun at Pc Luke, who stepped back.
Parnell ran off towards the Pump Room Gardens. It was a sunny day, and there were quite a few people there, including schoolchildren.
Parnell pointed the gun at Dc Luke and threatened him as he ran, but Dc Luke continued regardless and managed to grapple him to the ground and both officers then restrained him.
During the struggle Parnell appeared to still be trying to point the gun at Dc Luke until it was prised from his hand and he was handcuffed.
Mr Cooper said: “Up until that point, neither officer could have known whether or not it was a real firearm. Both of these officers, in particular Dc Luke, behaved with conspicuous courage.”
Mr Cooper added the gun was found to be an unloaded Webley and Scott blank-firing starter pistol which was not capable of discharging a missile.
William Douglas-Jones, defending, said Parnell, who apologised to the officers, was ashamed of his actions and of having succumbed to drugs again, and felt he had let himself and others down.
Jailing Parnell, Judge de Bertodano told him: “When the police spotted you, you made the very bad mistake of threatening them with an imitation firearm.
“I accept it could not have done them any harm, but they didn’t know that – and as far as the members of the public and children who were around were concerned, it was a real gun.
“It is to the credit of the officers that they continued to chase and restrain you.”
After Parnell had been taken from the dock, the judge added the officers had behaved with “conspicuous courage” and clearly deserved a commendation.
“They were not to know it was an imitation firearm, and they went well beyond the call of duty in order to protect the public. I would like them each to be awarded £1,000 out of public funds to acknowledge the bravery they showed.”