BY TOBY PORTER
Rank-and-file officers are calling on Theresa May to back a call for two police officers to be honoured with the country’s highest bravery honour for their heroics during the London Bridge terror attack.
The Police Federation (PF) has written to the Prime Minister asking for the duo to be bestowed with Britain’s highest non-military decoration – the George Cross.
Police Constables Wayne Marques, 38, and Charlie Guenigault, 25, risked their lives to stop the terrorist attacks on June 3 this year.
Three terrorists drove into pedestrians on 3 June then stabbed people, killing eight and injuring 48 before they were shot by specialist armed police.
PC Marques, of the British Transport Police (BTP), and PC Guenigault, from the Met, even though they were unarmed, both fought back against Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redoune and Youssef Zaghba.
PC Guenigault, who has so far not talked about his ordeal, was off-duty when he took on the three knife-wielding attackers with his fists while PC Marques only carried a baton.
Survivor Brett Freeman – stabbed three times in the back and waiting “to be finished off” by the attackers – was saved by PC Guenigault, who suffered stabs wounds to the head, back, leg and stomach.
PF chairman Steve White said every member of the organisation backed the campaign. His letter to Mrs May said the number of deaths and serious injuries would have been far higher had it not been for the action of the heroic officers.
Mr White said: “PC Guenigault and PC Marques demonstrated selfless bravery on that awful night. They ran towards danger despite the odds they faced and through their selfless acts of bravery saved many lives while putting their own at risk.
“Their bravery showed that the terrorist threat will never win and they both deserve the highest recognition from a grateful nation.”
PC Marques had been a police officer for less than two years when the attacks happened.
He was temporarily blinded in one eye during the attack as the three attackers slashed at him with their knives. He received major injuries to his head above his eye and left leg near the hip. He also suffered wounds to his hands as he tried to defend himself.
He was near the start of his Saturday night shift and on patrol with a colleague in the area of London Bridge station when he heard screams and saw bouncers and customers queuing to get into a nearby bar standing “like deers in the headlights”.
He initially thought the disturbance was a pub fight that had spilled out on to the street or a gang fight “at the most”.
But he was approached by an off-duty Metropolitan Police officer who said he had seen someone stabbed, and shortly afterwards Marques himself witnessed people being attacked in Borough High Street near the junction with London Bridge Street. It was then that he charged the first attacker.
He said the terrorists were lined up against him, making him feel like he was in a Western.
“The three of them were standing together almost shoulder-to-shoulder, like a little wolf pack, and they’re staring at me,” he said. “And that’s when I get to size them up.
“The short one that was on the right hand side, he was the one that I heard saying: ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.’ He said it a few times, eyes bulging.
“And I’m basically just like a cowboy in a Western movie waiting for the draw, waiting for them to make their move.”
He said he took a deep breath and charged at the first attacker, swinging at him “with everything I had as hard as I could, straight through his head, trying to go for a knockout blow”.
Although he heard the terrorist “yelp in pain”, the man struck back. “He’d hit me so hard that my right eye went lights out straight away, I just went blind,” Marques said.
In a fight he believes lasted up to 90 seconds, the British Transport Police (BTP) officer was set upon by Youssef Zaghba, Khuram Butt and Rachid Redouane.
“The second one [attacker] and the third one I was basically fighting left to right, because I only had one eye so I’m moving left to right, left to right,” he said.
At that point he recalled being stabbed in the leg by the first attacker. He said: “I’m thinking: ‘Shit, there’s a knife in my leg,’ while I’m fighting the second one and the third one.”
After being stabbed in the hand he said he could remember little except for “swinging [my baton] all over the place”.
He said the adrenaline prevented him from realising how badly he had been injured. Marques was wounded just above his right eye and also suffered major injuries to his head, left leg and left hand. He has since recovered his sight.
“I didn’t realise how badly I was hurt,” he said. “The adrenaline, the fighting, all of that, I could feel what they were doing to me but I couldn’t feel it at the same time. I could just feel that I’d been cut and hurt.”
A JustGiving page set up to raise money for Marques says: “This man put everything on the line to save the lives of people he’d never met. He didn’t wait for backup. He didn’t just make a token effort. He gave it everything. Let’s show the man our gratitude.”
A BTP spokesperson said: “The actions of one of our officers in response to the terrorist attacks this year was heroic and various methods of formal recognition are being taken forward by the force.”
Redouane, 30, Butt, 27, and Zaghba, 22, killed eight people on the night of June 3. They deliberately drove a white van into people on London Bridge before stabbing people in Borough Market, where all three were shot dead by police.
King George VI created the George Cross in 1940 to reward acts of bravery during the Second World War. It is the highest honour a non-military person can receive and can be awarded MPS explosives officer Roger Philip Coad was the policing’s last George Cross recipient. He was awarded it posthumously for the heroism he displayed in trying to diffuse an IRA bomb in London on August 29, 1975.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.