August 2021

Moment police officer blasts paedophile with rubber bullet as he brandished fake assault rifle outside village pub

This is the moment an armed police officer blasted a paedophile with a rubber bullet after he brandished a fake assault rifle outside a village pub.  

Police bodycam video shows the officer and his colleague being confronted by Simon Tait, 38, pointing a fake M16 assault rifle at them when they arrived at the Coldham Hall Tavern in Surlingham, South Norfolk.

Tait was wearing military-style clothing and the officers could easily have shot him dead as they had no way of knowing if his gun was real or fake.

But the male officer who jumped out of the driver’s seat of the car shot him with a rubber bullet instead of reaching for his Heckler & Koch carbine.

Tait dropped his rifle when he was floored by the rubber bullet striking his leg as a female officer ran over to him with a police taser in her hands before he was arrested outside the pub on the Norfolk Broads.

It later emerged Tait’s gun was a harmless replica and he had been trying to provoke police to shoot him dead in a potential ‘suicide by cop’ scenario while he was being investigated for possessing indecent images of children.

The incident happened on May 23 after he turned up at the pub with the gun and threatened to shoot people, causing some to flee and others to hide.

Tait of Surlingham, who later attacked another officer while being treated in hospital, was jailed for four years and four months at Norwich Crown Court last week.

He had earlier admitted possessing a replica gun, making a threatening call to the pub, assaulting the office and possessing indecent images of children.

The officer told how he had faced an ‘armed officer’s worst nightmare’ by looking down the barrel of Tait’s gun without knowing if it was real or fake.

He said in a victim impact statement read to the court: ‘I know as part of my role I may have to make life and death decisions and put myself in harm’s way to protect others. I also know that in the event of any incident, my actions would be scrutinised in the months and years afterwards to ensure the action taken was necessary.

‘My shift prior to the incident had been fairly normal. I have a dual working as a roads policing officer in downtime, so had been doing patrols and had dealt with a man for public order offences and was doing paperwork for this matter when the call came in regarding Tait.

‘I could immediately sense from the nature of the call and the way the information was being relayed over the radio that Tait was serious about his intention to provoke a police shooting.

‘At the time, I didn’t think about the consequences, I just focussed on the job in hand and putting all my training into action. I had armed myself with an AEP launcher (baton round).

‘When we arrived, I could see that Tait was holding what appeared to be an M16 style assault rifle. While the chances of Tait having access to a genuine weapon and ammunition are extremely rare, I can’t tell whether it’s imitation until it’s in my hands.

‘I was faced with any armed officer’s worst nightmare, potentially looking down the barrel of a weapon that could kill me or looking at a plastic toy.

‘The weapon that Tait had looked very much a genuine weapon and I’m afforded the right to assume it is a viable firearm. It is a daunting prospect knowing that I am about to get out of a car with a less lethal option facing a potentially lethal firearm because I want to do everything I can to not kill or seriously injure him.

‘After we arrived on scene with Tait, I was so relieved he stumbled as we pulled into the car park. That action probably saved his life because it gave me just enough time to get out of the car and discharge the AEP as he levelled the firearm at me.

‘The shot was effective, we were able to safely detain Tait. I was relieved we’d been able to bring the situation to a safe conclusion

‘The extreme nature and the serious risk of Tait’s actions could have had fatal consequences that day. Thankfully this is not the sort of incident that me or my colleagues face on a regular basis.’

The officer, who did not wish to be identified, added: ‘I’ve been a police officer for more than 12 years. I’ve had a varied career working in various roles from a frontline response officer, drug disruption team and within the Police Support Unit, dealing with large scale disorder.

‘I’ve been deployed all over the country as part of this role and have dealt with conflict on a regular basis throughout my career. I’ve been assaulted countless times, including almost being run over intentionally by a driver while I was helping a victim who had been assaulted.

‘I’ve also been first on scene at a murder, where I tried in vain, to save the victim. The incident on 23 May 2021 was by far the most challenging.

‘I became an Authorised Firearms Officer in 2017 and later qualified as an Armed Response Vehicle operator, providing spontaneous firearms response to incidents that require it. I’m proud to have achieved this role and the responsibility that comes with it.’

Norwich Crown Court heard how police were called after Tait telephoned the pub, saying: ‘I will come into the pub in a minute, I will be armed’.

Customer could then see Tait in the car park ‘holding what looked like a weapon’.

One regular told Tait to ‘put the weapon down’ which he did before later picking it up and pointing it at him. The drinker recalled how he felt ‘scared like he never did before’ and ‘genuinely thought he was going to die’.

The court was told how the police officer had just enough time to select a non-lethal baton round as Tait had slipped as the police car pulled up in the car park.

Tait was taken to hospital due to the baton round injury to his leg, but he was difficult with medical staff and became more aggressive. The court heard he assaulted the police officer who was with him by grabbing and twisting his wrist and trying to spit at him.

The incident happened three months after police investigating an image which had been shared online carried out a search warrant at Tait’s home. Several devices were seized, and police found more than 1,000 indecent images of children on his mobile phone.

Judge Andrew Shaw told Tait that he had become ‘completely unstable’ due to earlier events that caused him to ‘want to end your life’.

He said Tait was ‘clearly intending a fatal action’ by provoking police and accused him of creating a very serious risk of severe psychological harm to those present as well as a high risk of his own death.

Mr Moore described him as being ‘completely unstable’ and ’emotionally blind to his actions’.

Tait was also given a ten year sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) and put on the sex offenders register for 10 years.