Memorial planned for murdered Richmondshire police officer

A memorial to a Richmondshire policeman who was stabbed through the heart after stopping to help a teenage hitch-hiker looks set to finally be erected, 41 years after his death.

Plans have been submitted for a Balmoral stone memorial with gold lettering to be placed in Richmond Market Square to honour murdered DC Norman Garnham, the first North Yorkshire Police officer to be killed in the line of duty.

He died in March 1977, just two weeks after becoming a detective, shortly after completing his shift as he drove home to Skeeby, north-east of the town.

Hitch-hiker Colin Simpson, 18, had run away from his home in Richmond after attacking his sisters, and DC Garnham pulled over to give him a lift.

When Simpson recognised DC Garnham, who was originally from North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, ran off, before stabbing the 25-year-old police officer as he tried to detain him.

Simpson’s trial heard DC Garnham had died from “a cruel act of misfortune” following “a kindly act”.

Simpson told the jury: “The policeman got out of the car, grabbed me and pushed me to the ground. I pulled the knife out of my pocket and he grabbed me again. I held the knife more to frighten him than hurt him. I did not know I had stabbed him.”

The trial was told Simpson fled the scene, but was arrested an hour after the stabbing as he tried to hitch a lift at a petrol station on the A1 near Scotch Corner.

Three months before the teenager was jailed for life, 70 policemen formed a guard of honour outside North Ormesby Parish Church at DC Garnham’s funeral, where North Yorkshire Chief Constable Robert Boyes described him as “a police officer of the very best quality”.

DC Garnham had joined the force in 1975 and had lived in lodgings on Richmond Road, Skeeby.

After his death, Skeeby postmistress Alice Little paid tribute to him. She said: “He was a kind and friendly young man, just like the old village bobby. He was well-known and liked by everybody.”

To remember DC Garnham’s sacrifice, North Yorkshire Police has been working with the Police Memorial Trust, a national charity set up by film producer Michael Winner following the murder of police officer Yvonne Fletcher, who was fatally wounded by a shot fired from the Libyan embassy in 1984.

The trust has other memorials in North Yorkshire, including one in Tadcaster in the memory of Special Constable Glenn Goodman, who was killed by an IRA gunman in 1992.

The force has submitted an application for listed building consent to Richmondshire District Council to erect a stone memorial plaque in a courtyard beside the deconsecrated 14th century church used by the Green Howard’s Museum, following lengthy discussions over suitable sites.

The proposal states the courtyard area could be used for quiet reflection, and to “remember the service and sacrifice of a fallen officer”.

The trust has agreed to fund the memorial.

Richmond county and district councillor Stuart Parsons said he was delighted a scheme had been presented.

He said: “It is time that this was done – he has had no memorial in all these years. It was almost as if he had completely faded from people’s memory. The memorial will remind people that tragedy can strike in a beautiful and tranquil place such as Richmond.

“We have so much talk about knife crime now it seems almost normal, but in the 1970s, this sort of crime would have virtually have been unheard of.

“He was a very promising young man, killed when he was driving to help somebody.

“He was probably still very idealistic and didn’t understand that human nature can be quite bizarre and that he should always do the right thing, helping everybody.”