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Police officers commended for bravery after explosion

Three police officers who put themselves in harm’s way to prevent a man blowing himself up have won an award for their incredible bravery.

PCs Adam Cook, Scott Loughran and James Lloyd attended a house in Mansfield Woodhouse to arrest 29-year-old Kyhl Sykes, following reports he had sexually assaulted a girl.

It was far from a straightforward assignment as Sykes had sent messages stating he would take his own life before police located him.

Upon attending the address, PC Lloyd went and secured the back of the property, while PC Cook and PC Loughran remained at the front.

They knocked on the door and shouted through the letter box but got no response. Suspecting Sykes may be harming himself, they forced entry and could immediately smell gas.

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Seconds later, the kitchen door exploded outwards with a blast of heat and light as a result of Sykes striking a match, which caused a backdraft.

PC Cook and PC Loughran feared the address might explode and immediately ran out to warn PC Lloyd at the back of the property.

The three officers then returned to the front, where they saw Sykes standing within the doorway of the house.

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Despite the fact there had already been one gas explosion and the smell of gas was still extremely strong, all three officers ran towards Sykes to apprehend him.

They dragged him away from the house and, as they handcuffed him, Sykes informed them he had just cut the gas pipe within the address.

Amid the serious danger this posed, the officers remained calm and began evacuating neighbouring properties until further help could arrive.

Sykes suffered burns to his face and hands during the incident, which happened on 16 February 2023, but fortunately no-one else was injured.

Sykes went on to plead guilty to charges of arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered, two counts of engaging in sexual activity with a girl and a further count of making indecent photographs of a child.

He was jailed for six-and-a-half years after appearing at Nottingham Crown Court on 10 August, with the judge telling him he could have blown police officers, himself, and others “to kingdom come” as a result of his “utterly selfish and reckless” actions.

On Tuesday (21 November), PCs Cook, Loughran and Lloyd were among 30 Notts Police officers to receive a Chief Constable Commendation during a ceremony at Force HQ for the role they played in bringing about a safe conclusion to the incident.

The response officers, who are based at Mansfield Police Station, were nominated by Sergeant Jody Leonardi, who said:

“Had the officers followed the guidance of backing away as soon as they smelt the gas, it would have had more time to spread throughout the address and the suspect could have then lit it, causing a massive explosion, no doubt ending his own life and placing many more at risk.

“All three officers displayed bravery and went above and beyond what would have been expected of them by placing themselves in harm’s way.”

Speaking on behalf of the three officers, PC Loughran said:

“It is great to be recognised for the incident we dealt with on that day. Arrest attempts don’t always go as envisaged, as demonstrated in this case.

“When the gas in the house ignited we had to protect ourselves and everyone in the vicinity. Fortunately, we managed to arrest Sykes before he could cause anyone significant harm.”

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