A solicitor has spoken of the dramatic moment he tackled a prisoner trying to escape from Hastings Magistrates’ Court this week, writes Katy Weitz.
Kieron Locke is still bruised and struggling to breathe but he can recall with startling clarity the moment he rugby-tackled the 27-year-old prisoner to the ground.
The dad-of-one, who was appearing for the defence in a domestic violence case on Tuesday morning, was listening to the first witness give evidence when he heard banging and shouting coming from outside the courtroom.
“It all happened so quickly. I initially thought someone was trying to gain access to the courts from the front entrance,” says Kieron, aged 40.
“So I just tried to carry on doing my job but the usher was on the ball. She’d worked it out and she moved towards the door to the cells, trying to hold it tightly shut. But there was no lock on the door. It wasn’t until the guy burst through the door and out of the dock that I realised what was happening.
“It was like a whirlwind – he came from the cells and literally burst into the courtroom and then launched himself out of the dock. I thought, ‘Christ! This guy must have a knife or some sort of weapon on him. Otherwise how had he got out?’”
Kieron, who has played rugby since he was eight, captaining the first 15 team at William Parker School and later representing Hastings and Bexhill Rugby Club, says he didn’t think twice.
“Instinct just took over. He was running at me and I went low round his legs and I managed to take him down. Any rugby player in my position would have done the same. As he and I were falling to the ground, I hit the court chairs quite hard and I felt a crunch around my ribcage.
“He was trying to make for the door but I had hold of his arm and the security staff were there in seconds.”
Kieron realised straight away that he had been injured. He said: “I couldn’t breathe. I had quite a lot of sharp pain down my left side. Though I knew I was hurt, I was quite prepared to carry on with my case. Fortunately, the court security and staff were great and they told me I had go to hospital straight away to get checked out.
An x-ray revealed the ribs were bruised but not broken.
“It’s good news,” says Kieron. “It could have been much worse. My wife’s really proud of me, of course, but I think next time I’ll have to think twice before doing something like that. I’ll have to think about my family.”
Kieron, a criminal solicitor for Gurney Harden Solicitors, says his employers have been very understanding.
“I’ve got a few days off and it’s still hard for me to breathe.”
Kieron says he has been overwhelmed by the public response to the story online.
“I’m not on Facebook but my wife has shown me all the messages of support from well-wishers. I’ve been really touched by their kind wishes and concern. But above all I’m grateful to the staff and security at Hastings Magistrates’ Court for their professionalism and the way they handled this really shocking incident. I certainly didn’t stop this guy on my own.
“The court is a really nice environment to work in. At the end of the day, I’m just really glad nobody was seriously hurt.”
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