Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford machete attacker Anthony Underwood 'rugby tackled' by officer

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Media captionShoppers scattered as Anthony Underwood (circled) ran down the street wielding the machete

A man who ran through a town centre with a hammer and machete was floored by a policeman's "flying rugby tackle".

Anthony Underwood, 27, attacked Bedford police station before scattering shoppers in Midland Road on 11 November.

Unarmed sergeant Phil Boyd brought the offender under control.

Underwood, who admitted affray and criminal damage, was given an eight-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, at Luton Crown Court.

His attack began "completely without warning" at about 12:55 GMT when he smashed in a side door of the police station at Greyfriars.

'Split-second decision'

He then ran off towards a busy shopping street waving the weapons round his head, with police running ahead to warn shoppers.

Image caption Anthony Underwood was eventually floored by a police "rugby tackle"

CCTV footage shows terrified and screaming members of the public running away as officers pursued Underwood, pleading with him to put the weapons down.

He was surrounded outside a shop, but police could not get near him as he was waving the machete.

With armed response colleagues still on the way, a Bedfordshire Police spokesman said Sgt Boyd made a "split-second decision" to try to bring Underwood under control.

Underwood, from Croxden Way, Elstow, Bedfordshire, later told police he wanted to go to prison to try to kick a £300-a-day cocaine habit and thought his actions would get him there.

He admitted criminal damage to property, affray and unlawful possession of a knife at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing, Judge Barbara Mensah said: "Whatever your reasons, it would have been very frightening for members of the public who were there.

"Sgt Boyd showed particular courage and deserves the commendation of the court."

Underwood was also ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service.

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