Pc tells inquest of 'horrendous' moment he saw ex-convict attack woman

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A police officer has described the "horrendous" moment he saw a young woman being brutally attacked by a former convict and said he had "never been more scared in his life".

Officers rushed to the Sirhowy Arms Hotel in Argoed, Blackwood, South Wales, after owner Mandy Miles dialled 999, screaming and crying and telling them that there had been a murder and that Matthew Williams, 34, was "eating" 22-year-old Cerys Yemm, an inquest has heard.

Taser-trained officer Pc Alan Cottrell was one of the first to respond to the call made just after 1am on November 6 2014.

Asked what his state was when he opened the door and faced Williams, who the inquest heard was dripping in blood, Pc Cottrell said: "I have never been more scared in my life.

"I have gone to some horrific things through my service but this was the most horrendous thing I have ever seen.

"The next thing to happen is you try and engage with him but I looked at this face and he just looked possessed.

"It was just totally vacant. It was an angry sort of look but if you looked in his eyes you could not see colour.

"They were almost all black... if he got to his feet I would not be alive today."

Gwent Coroner's Court in Newport heard how before alerting the emergency services, hotel owner Mrs Miles opened the door to Williams' room after residents heard screams coming from it.

Mrs Miles said she has since learned that the "science" has proven that Williams was not performing an act of cannibalism, but that was what it looked like to her.

Her husband Raymond Miles, who stood guard outside Williams' room while his wife was on the phone, said he heard "thumping and grunting" coming from inside.

Mr Miles said one male and two female police officers arrived and that Williams went "floppy" and seemed to be unconscious after being Tasered by one officer.

Jeremy Johnson QC, who was representing Gwent Police, asked: "You weren't worried that the police were using too much force?"

Mr Miles said: "No."

Mr Johnson said: "If anything, you were worried that they should be using a bit more force.

"Did you at one stage say 'hit him again'?"

Mr Miles agreed and said: "That is when he was trying to get up."

Pc Cottrell said he and Mr Miles had to force the door open as there was something obstructing it and that when the door opened Williams rolled onto his back and landed between Miss Yemm's legs.

He added that he shouted at Williams that he had a Taser and asked him to roll away from Miss Yemm.

"It was my opinion that he was trying to get up either to carry on the attack of Cerys or to come at us," he said.

"It did not strike me that he was trying to get out of the way to surrender.

"He was laying there snarling and growling."

Pc Cottrell said he used the Taser on Williams and saw that the first barb went into his gut area but did not find out until the paramedics asked him to remove it that the second barb had struck Williams between his eyes.

Of his decision to use the Taser he added: "I have got no doubt if he managed to get to his feet and he came at me I would not have been able to defend myself."

He said he believed the Taser had worked and had achieved neuromuscular incapacitation on Williams but that he then started to move so he decided to handcuff him and put leg straps on.

Pc Cottrell said: "He was just not responding. He was just snarling and growling and he appeared to be chewing on something."

The inquest heard other officers arrived and Williams started to try to rise up again about seven minutes after the Taser was first used.

Pc Cottrell said he was being lifted by Williams who was moving upwards "as if we weren't there" and he used the Taser again in angled drive stun mode three more times in the space of 27 seconds, after Williams repeatedly tried to get up.

Pc Cottrell said he then went to the floor and did not rise up again but was breathing and "I had no concerns about his condition at that stage".

Describing what he knew and found out while travelling to the scene, he said he had dealt with Williams a few times previously.

The first being in 2012 when Williams was Tasered by another officer and it had not worked.

He said he knew Williams was a "rather large, violent male".

The inquest previously heard Williams suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was released from HMP Parc in Bridgend on October 23 with no support or medication.

Nicholas Bowen QC, acting on behalf of the Williams family, questioned Pc Cottrell about who was in the room and when, and asked why he did not call for other officers to help if he felt they did not have Williams under control.

Pc Cottrell said he was in "absolute fear" for his safety and was "bricking it".

Mr Bowen said: "If your account is accurate and it was such a dangerous situation then Pc (Stephen) New would have been involved in restraining Matthew."

Pc Cottrell said he could not recall what Pc New was doing and was not aware that he had left the room to make a call.

He was asked how he could have felt Williams was a danger with five officers in the room and denied that he "did not care about Matthew because of what he had done".

Mr Bowen asked if there was some kind of "desire for revenge", which Pc Cottrell denied.

Mr Bowen said: "Are you prepared to accept that perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, given the grim event that you were confronted with, that perhaps you went over the top?"

Pc Cottrell said: "No, if this were to happen tomorrow I would do it exactly the same."

The inquest heard Williams had 78 previous convictions for offences including assault, burglary and drug-related offences.