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Service for officer stabbed in 1994

It started out as "an ordinary day" for the police officers on duty, but ended in tragedy when Sergeant Derek Robertson was fatally stabbed while responding to an armed robbery at a post office.

A memorial service was held today outside Addington police station, Croydon, south London, to mark the 20th anniversary of his death.

Joining his widow Christine - who was carrying a single red rose - were the four officers who initially responded to the robbery with him two decades ago, along with other members of the Metropolitan Police, making a crowd of about 70 people.

Floral wreaths were laid at the station door, and a poem, chosen by Mrs Robertson, was read out which remembered "happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days".

Steve Wilson, who retired from the police in 2005, was working with Sergeant Robertson on the day he died - February 8, 1994 - and said seeing Sergeant Robertson moments after he was stabbed was "a shock".

He said it was just "an ordinary day" up until that, and said: "Derek was such a great bloke. He really was. He was one of the best police officers I think I've ever met in my career."

He added: "He was very likeable, very pleasant, just a great guy. You know, led from the front, nothing was too much trouble for him to do, always looked after you, he was a team leader. He looked after us."

Pc Robert Brown, who was also at the scene that day, and is still a serving policeman, said: "You never know in this job what's going to happen."

Pc Brown said there were people at the memorial he had not seen in 20 years, and said the crowd was a testament to how well thought of Sergeant Robertson was.

"He's a person I liked a lot. He used to take the Mickey out of me all the time. He was a very nice man," he added.

On the day Sergeant Robertson died, three men broke into a sub-post office in New Addington and waited there for the arrival of the post master.

As he arrived, he was over-powered by the three men, who held him at knife point while they waited for the time locks on the safe to disengage.

As they waited, the post master received a telephone call from his wife. She sensed there was trouble and phoned the police.

Sergeant Robertson was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene and made his way to cover the exit at the rear of the building. Not long after, he relayed over his radio that three suspects had left by the rear door, one holding a knife to the post master's throat.

Two of the officers who had also arrived were then confronted by two suspects and both were detained and arrested.

When the officers went around to the rear of the building, they discovered Sergeant Robertson had been stabbed several times, whilst attempting to arrest the third suspect.

Despite the best efforts of the officers and medical staff that arrived soon after, Sergeant Robertson died at the scene.

After a brief manhunt, the third suspect was found in the area and was arrested.

All four officers were awarded with Commissioner's Commendations in 1995 by the then-Commissioner Sir Paul Condon.

Sergeant Robertson was posthumously honoured with a High Commendation by the Commissioner - the top honour the Commissioner can bestow upon a police officer. He was also honoured by the Queen and awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal in 1995.

On January 20,1995, following a trial at the Old Bailey, Robert Eades, aged 32 at the time, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with the recommendation of serving a minimum of 25 years.

Eades's two accomplices, aged 38 and 32, were both found guilty of manslaughter and were sentenced to 12 years.

All three had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and false imprisonment.


From Belfast Telegraph