Tributes paid to Rampton arrest hero cop

A HERO policeman who ended a massive manhunt for two dangerous fugitives in the Retford area has died suddenly at his home from a heart condition.

A HERO policeman who ended a massive manhunt for two dangerous fugitives in the Retford area has died suddenly at his home from a heart condition.

Bernard Briddon, aged 76, was a prominent figure in the Notts police force and was renowned for capturing two escapees from Rampton Hospital in 1957.

"Bernard was a caring and loving husband who enjoyed life and I miss him so much," said his wife Elsie, 78, of Plantation Hill, Worksop.

Patients Frank Mitchell, known as Mad Mitchell, and his accomplice Richard Maskell broke free from Rampton on Friday 18th January 1957 with duplicate keys they carved in their rooms.

Whilst on the run the pair terrorised the Retford countryside but the bravery and courage of Pc Briddon brought their escape to a hasty halt.

"Bernard was only 32 and had only been in the force just over three years but he always said he did what any other officer would have done," said proud son Peter, 50, who has followed in his fathers footsteps and is now in the crime unit of Notts police.

During their weekend rampage, Mitchell and Maskell terrorised the neighbourhood, attacking one Tuxford man, Leonard Collingburn of Station House, with an iron bar before making off with his clothes and cash.

It was on the Monday, when the escapees were still at large, that Pc Briddon was conducting a road check of all vehicles on Great North Road, Newark, and was approached by the two men.

"I remember the day vividly," said Elsie. "Everyone was scared to death because the men were so threatening but Bernard was so calm."

Mitchell and Maskell drove towards Pc Briddon on a motorbike but in his great moment, that would soon earn him a British Empire medal of gallantry from the Queen, he pushed the riders to the floor.

"Bernard had hold of Maskell, but he pulled a sawn-off shotgun out from under his jacket and held Bernard at gun point," said brother Len, 82, who was also in the force at the time.

Pc Briddon grabbed the gun by the barrel and with help from workers from a nearby garage, he wrestled the two to the ground and handcuffed them.

"This was his great moment," said son Martin, 48, a warrant officer in the Navy. "We are so sad to see him go because he was one of lifes greats and was the dad that everyone wishes for."

The funeral is 11am today (Friday) at Brimington Crematorium, Chesterfield.