Brave officers in line for national award

Two Gwent police officers who risked their lives trying to stop a rampaging water buffalo from attacking its owners will be at the 2021 Police Bravery Awards in London this week.

PCs Mark Burbidge and Owain Smallwood will join fellow nominees from forces across England and Wales at the presentation ceremony in the capital on Thursday (Dec 9).

A father and son were killed in the incident on a farm in Monmouthshire on 5 May 2020 but the Gwent PCs’ actions in confronting the beast have been credited with saving the lives of the mother and daughter.

PC Burbidge was the first officer on the scene, accompanied by CSO Francesco Pomposo, after they received reports of two people being attacked by a water buffalo on the farm in Upper Berthllwyd, near Usk.

The officers arrived at the farm to scenes of chaos with a large, aggressive bull attacking two men in a field. One of the men appeared lifeless while the other was showing some signs of life, but was clearly in great distress.

Three paramedics were by the gate to the field, with a fourth in the field but taking cover close to a hedge.

PC Burbidge could see two women, a mother and daughter, were also in the field and were trying to distract the animal with metal poles as it attacked the men.

Without hesitation or thought for his own safety, he ran into the field and started shouting to the two women to get away.

However, as he approached, the buffalo charged the daughter, picking her up in its horns “like a rag doll” and throwing her to the ground, burying its horns into her.

The mother was in shock and ran towards the gate, while PC Burbidge ran towards the daughter as the bull continued its attack.

PC Burbidge picked up a pole and started to beat the ground to distract the buffalo and, when this failed, began hitting the animal.  As PC Burbidge continued to strike it with a pole, the badly-injured daughter managed to get away and was helped to safety by SCO Pomposo and a paramedic.

PC Smallwood then arrived to help PC Burbidge in trying to distract the buffalo, which had moved back to the second man and was mauling him on the ground.

Police marksmen also arrived and fired shots to try to kill the animal, but their standard carbine rifle was not powerful enough, so the officers decided to form a protective line to allow paramedics to get to the men.

One of the men,  57-year-old Ralph Jump, died at the scene. His son Peter (19) was airlifted to hospital but died from his injuries after surgery.

Steve Thorpe, chair of Gwent Police Federation, said: “I commend these officers for their bravery at an incident they had never trained for and where the equipment initially available to them was ineffective.

“Despite this, all involved risked their own lives, facing a clearly dangerous and unpredictable animal, in an attempt to save the lives of those injured and protect others.”

The water buffalo was destroyed following the incident.

PCs Mark Burbidge and Owain Smallwood

PCs Mark Burbidge (left) and Owain Smallwood are in line for a Police Bravery Award