Two police officers in Port Talbot were threatened with a knife in a terrifying ordeal while responding to a domestic call in a house. On September 28, 2021, PC Alisha Pontin and PC Katie White responded to a possible domestic disturbance at an address in the Sandfields area of the town.
The address was shared by James Perry and his grandmother. When the officers arrived, Perry’s grandmother opened the door and told the officers her grandson was upstairs. The two officers climbed the stairs and found Perry hiding in a wardrobe in a bedroom. After being asked by officers to leave the address as part of usual policing protocol, he became “irate” before subjecting them to a threatening knife attack.
A court case in November 2022 heard how the defendant – Perry – was eventually tasered after lunging at one of the officers and threatening her with a large kitchen knife. You can read about that here. The officers have now told BBC series Critical Incident of the horrific ordeal.
Read more: Terrifying moment man lunges at police officer with large kitchen knife
The court heard how the two officers tried to take hold of Perry but he pushed the PCs out of the way and dashed down the stairs. The officers followed the defendant to the ground floor and into the kitchen where Perry grabbed a large knife and then lunged at the first of the officers, PC Pontin, with the weapon raised above his head. The defendant grabbed the constable causing her to fall to the ground, and he stood over her brandishing the blade.
At that moment the second officer, PC White, entered the kitchen and quickly drew her Taser – Perry responded by pointing the knife at his own throat and, after ignoring repeated orders to drop the weapon, the officer discharged her stun gun. The 33-year-old defendant was subsequently arrested.
The court heard – but it was not mentioned in the BBC programme – how the defendant was on bail at the time of the incident for two assaults which had seen him beating two men about the head, before his interaction with the police officers.
The victim of the first assault said he was still “reeling” from the unprovoked attack, and he said he was fearful of being attacked again. In his statement the second victim – a veteran of the Falklands conflict – said he had undergone spinal surgery shortly before the incident, an incident which he said aggravated his post-traumatic stress disorder.
Following that, on the day before the attack on the police officers, Perry arranged to met a former partner in order to collect a set of alloy wheels he had stored in her lockup, the court case last year heard. He spent the day messaging his ex and asking her to resume their relationship, and that evening turned at her house in Sandfields, Port Talbot, and confronted her. Perry then damaged two of the woman’s work vans before arming himself with a shovel and striking the car she was sat in.
In her statement Perry’s ex said it had been “extremely frightening” to be confronted by the defendant outside her home, and she said the incident had brought back the anxiety she had previously suffered with, had affected her university work, and had left her struggling to sleep.
In her victim statement, the first police officer said she and her colleague had been met with “pure anger and aggression” at Perry’s home, and she said she thought the fact they had been female officers had led to the escalation in the defendant’s behaviour. She said she thought Perry was going to strike her with the kitchen knife, and she said the incident had been the most terrifying incident so far in her four-year policing career. The second officer described the incident as a “traumatic” one for her and her colleague, and she said she had feared for her colleague’s safety.
Speaking to the BBC programme, PC Pontin, who was the officer subjected to the brunt of the attack, said: “I don’t think I’ve ever screamed like that before. I genuinely did think I was going to die that day.
“When people say your life flashes before your eyes, it does. At that moment I just thought ‘this is it’. I remember bracing myself for the impact of this sharp knife either coming into my neck or my face.”
It was her colleague PC White’s quick-thinking which eventually saved PC Pontin’s life after tasering the defendant. “I thought the worst. It was the scariest scream. She was screaming like she was fearing for her life,” said the officer, who was in another room when the threats happened.
“I’ve never shot anyone in my life. The training kicked in. My mind was thinking to protect myself and to protect Alisha and to shoot him.
“The situation calmed right down as soon as he was tasered. I feel like me and Alisha handled the situation really well. It’s definitely the scariest incident I’ve ever been to in my career.”
James Stephen Jeffrey Perry, of Cronin Avenue, Sandfields, Port Talbot, had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), three counts of criminal damage, a public order matter, two counts of assaulting an emergency worker, and threatening a person with an offensive weapon in a private place when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.
With discounts for his guilty pleas, Recorder Richard Kember sentenced Perry to a total of 20 months in prison; eight months for the ABHs and 12 months for threatening with a bladed article to run consecutively, and to one month for the criminal damages, one month for the public order offences and one month for the assault of emergency workers all to run concurrently with eachother and concurrently with the 20 months. Perry was told he would serve up to half the sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.
Speaking after the sentencing South Wales Police chief inspector James Ratti said: “The footage from the officers’ body worn cameras shows the dangers that officers can face at any time. Police officers go above and beyond in their duties to protect people and under no circumstances should they be assaulted or verbally abused. The overwhelming majority of the public support the work of our officers and will understandably be shocked by the footage. I am extremely proud of PC Pontin and PC White’s professionalism and bravery in dealing with this incident.”