Police officer set on fire by man thanks public for ‘humbling’ support

An officer who suffered horrific burns when he was set alight by a man has thanked wellwishers across the world for their “humbling” support.

Blagovest Hadjigueorguiev, 30, has been jailed for 10 years and six months for dousing Pc Darral Mares and Pc Alan Lenton in petrol as they assisted with an eviction in September.

Pc Mares was engulfed by flames and sustained severe burns to his legs and hand and is still recovering from the attack.

Pc Lenton grabbed his colleague, pulled him away from the fire and rolled him in long grass to extinguish the flames.

He removed burnt clothing from Pc Mares by handcuffing Hadjigueorguiev who had been restrained by two bailiffs at the scene.

In a statement issued through Devon and Cornwall Police, Pc Mares said his recovery was still ongoing and his priority was to return to “full physical fitness”.

He thanked those who assisted him and his family and the “incredible NHS staff” at the Royal Cornwall Hospital and Derriford Burns Unit.

“We have been overwhelmed with the support from my colleagues, friends and the local community,” Pc Mares said.

“I have received numerous kind gifts, videos and written messages of goodwill from persons unknown to me from all over the UK and as far away as Australia.

“This has been not only very humbling but a beneficial distraction to the incident.

“Sadly, since my incident, officers in London were subject to an attack and more prominently in the news was the tragic death of Sergeant Matt Ratana who was shot dead on duty in Croydon.

“Officers and staff know they have to take risks on occasions and understand that it comes with the nature of policing, but being assaulted on duty should never be condoned and seen as ‘part of the job’.”

Pc Lenton, who was issued a commendation by the judge at Bristol Crown Court, said Hadjigueorguiev’s actions “will always live with us”.

He said he was looking forward to Pc Mares’s “humour and camaraderie” when he returns to the office.

“I would be like to take this opportunity to extend both my and my family’s gratitude to colleagues and friends for their support following the assault,” Pc Lenton said.

“To mention all those who have sent kind words and gifts would take too long, but they know who they are – thank you. The messages have helped massively.”