PC STEVE Duffy, who pursued and caught three of the Deacon & Son robbers in Marlborough last September, has had his 20 years of service to Wiltshire Police recognised.

PC Duffy, who joined the force as an officer in Swindon in 1993, was at the centre of the pursuit for two of the five men involved in the robbery, who fled across the grounds of Great Western Hospital.

The men, who have now all pleaded guilty to the offence, crashed a car on the A419 slip road close to the hospital before making off into the wooded area in the surrounding land.

The officer, who works with the dogs unit, said: “We heard a car had crashed and people had decamped.

“One had been chased by an officer and detained, but there was another who had been seen running off. I took Bertie (his dog) down there and she located a scent track. We tracked one of them to some thick hedges and brambles.

“It was so thick I couldn’t see him, but the dog had got round and was barking for my attention. He was shouting for me to call the dog back because she was biting him.

“It’s always exciting when you get someone you’re after – it’s why you are in the job.

“I told him to climb out and I drew my taser just in case, because I knew he was a robber and might have been armed.

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How we reported the incident

“He was treated for his dog bite, whilst the dog found another scent track for another of the robbers.

“We had been told he was making his way towards Junction 15 of the M4. We had to crawl through tiny holes in hedges to catch up with him – it’s all good fun.

“The helicopter was helping us by this point, with its thermal imaging, tracking ahead of my position to give me information as we pursued him.

“We eventually found him in some really thick brambles towards Day House Lane. It was difficult to see how it was even possible to get into a hedge like that. His skin was in bits.

“We also found another scent track for a third man, but only got a coat from that, but it was all vital evidence. A balaclava too, which had been left on a hedge.”