Two police firearms officers have been commended for their arrest of a suspected gunman.

PC Phil Kibble and PC Ian Lewis had their safety catches off and were ready to fire when the man gave himself up after being cornered at a house in Rowde.

Deputy Chief Constable Mike Veale praised their coolness and professionalism when presenting them with their certificates at police headquarters in Devizes on Tuesday evening.

The two officers were among the armed response unit called to the premises of MGW Law in St John’s Street, Devizes, on July 7 this year after solicitor Jim Ward was shot at close range with a sawn-off shotgun. He died from his injuries three weeks later without regaining consciousness.

Officers were concerned for the safety of two people at a house in Rowde and PCs Kibble and Lewis, who had worked together on the squad for 11 years, were despatched to the location.

According to the citation, they were aware the suspect was in the front garden but they were prevented from entering by a locked gate. They managed to gain access over a wooden fence.

PC Kibble said: “We were very close to shooting him. It is the closest I have ever come to shooting someone.”

PC Lewis said: “We needed to close him down and keep control of the situation. We saw him at the front of the house and challenged him.

“Our safety catches were off and our red dot sights were locked on him. “He realised his predicament and we saw him move in the shadows.”

PC Lewis, a trained sniper, joined Wiltshire Police following a long Army career.

PC Lewis lives in South Gloucestershire while PC Kibble lives near Swindon.

Mr Veale also presented certificates of commendation to PC Carl Jones, who confronted an armed man in an incident in Swindon last year, and PC Jon Fairbairn, who attended to the victim of a single-vehicle crash while the vehicle was precariously perched over the parapet of a bridge on the A419.

n A 62-year-old property developer, Michael Chudley, has been charged with murder, possession of a sawn-off shotgun and threats to kill.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and a trial is likely to take place at Winchester Crown Court in June next year.