A POLICEWOMAN who was blasted in the face with a sawn-off shotgun has spoken of the “constant reminders” that bring back the horrors of the incident 18 months ago.
PC Suzanne Hudson is now back at work and says she “won’t be beaten” by the attack in Headingley in December 2013.
PC Hudson was shot at point-blank range through the door of Leslie’s flat when she went to the property with her colleague PC Richard Whiteley in the early hours of December 4, 2013.
After the shooting Leslie got on his bike and rode away from the scene laughing as PC Hudson, 33, lay bleeding in the street. She underwent life-saving surgery after suffering injuries to the arteries in her neck.
In a victim impact statement released following sentencing, PC Hudson said: “I have always known that I wasn’t going to be beaten by this. The journey was harder than I ever anticipated but I’m back at work and I’m still working hard.
“To look at where I am today, it’s hard to believe what I’ve had to endure and overcome in the last 18 months as I live with it every day and much of it is becoming a distant memory.
“There are constant reminders throughout daily life that bring that morning back to me and I have no doubt this will be the case for a while to come.”
Her colleague that day, PC Richard Whiteley, said: “It was a horrific psychological experience that I will never fully get over. I never asked for this to happen, I was just doing my job as any police officer would do.”
West Yorkshire Police have hailed both officers for their courage and actions, both on the day, and in the weeks and months after the attack.
Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said the attempted murder of PC Hudson was highlighted the “very real dangers” that police officers face in their daily duties.
“James Leslie knew that the people at his door were police officers and he deliberately pointed a sawn-off shotgun at them from just a few feet away and pulled the trigger. It was only through good fortune that PC Hudson was not killed,” he said.
“As it was, she received very serious injuries which required emergency medical treatment followed by ongoing rehabilitation. She has displayed considerable strength of character and courage in how she has dealt with the situation and returned to work.
“Her colleague PC Richard Whiteley also went through an incredibly traumatic experience. He managed to drag PC Hudson to safety and radio for help but was put in genuine fear for their lives when Leslie approached and threatened them with the gun.”
Chief Supt Money also hailed the specialist armed officer who caught up with Leslie after he fled the scene, and thanked the public for their helpfollowing a media appeal to bring him to justice.
He added: “Anyone who is prepared to possess and use firearms against police officers clearly presents a very significant threat to our communities.
“We simply cannot tolerate the criminal use of firearms, and the police and courts will always treat offences of this nature with the utmost seriousness.
“Leslie’s actions have shown him to be a very dangerous man, and the significant prison sentence he has received reflects this.”