Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Petrol attack prison officer Kevin McDonagh honoured

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Media captionThe boyfriend of a woman who was murdered pours petrol over her murderer and tries to set him alight

An officer who stopped an attacker from turning a prisoner into a human fireball inside an Edinburgh security van has been honoured for his bravery.

Kevin McDonagh, 40, was inside the Reliance van as a colleague brought Robert Chalmers out of the court after his Samantha White murder conviction.

Alistair Gibb, Ms Wright's former boyfriend, doused the prisoner with petrol before barging onto the van.

Fellow Reliance officers Gary Liddle and Guy Busby have also been honoured.

The awards ceremony took place at Reliance's East Kilbride Headquarters as the company prepared to stand down from the Scottish government's prisoner escort contract after 7 years.

The trio were honoured for their courage and commitment in the face of real and present danger.

Runaway prisoner

Mr Liddle was dragged under the wheels of a hijacked car as he attempted to stop a runaway prisoner escape in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park on 12 May 2011.

Mr Liddle was honoured for disregarding his own safety in attempting to stop a runaway prisoner.

Mr Liddle said: "I was right behind him when he managed to get a girl to stop her car. He jumped into the passenger seat and I yelled at her to get out, which she did.

"I was half in the passenger door trying to grab the keys when he hit the accelerator and I was dragged under the back wheels.

"I woke up in the hospital recovery room covered from head to toe in bruises and cuts, but I still don't know how I escaped more serious injury."

Mr Busby 31, rugby tackled a prisoner armed with what appeared to be a knife and prevented him from escaping from Glasgow Royal Infirmary where he had been taken for treatment.

Mr Busby, from Inverclyde, said: "I managed to shrug the blows off and when he tried to get out of the room I grabbed him and a fight broke out which spill out into the ward.

"I yelled at the nurses to get help and grabbed him again when he tried to get away by jumping over the nurses station.

"I eventually managed to subdue him till police and security staff arrived, then I doubled cuffed him and we got him back into the room."

Mr McDonagh, from West Lothian, said: "My colleague yelled that he had a lighter. The adrenalin and the training kicked in and I wrestled him off the van before he could use the lighter.

"That was when I realised there would have been carnage if he had been able to use the lighter inside the van.

"With the amount of petrol he had splashed about I have no doubt there would have been at least three fatalities inside the van that day, my colleague the prisoner and me."

Last month Gibb was since sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to endangering the lives of Chalmers and the two Reliance officers.

Campbell O'Connell, Reliance's associate director, said: "These officers showed real courage and disregard for their own personal safety in dealing with highly dangerous situations.

"They are a credit to themselves and to Reliance and richly deserve to be honoured in this way."

"I would also like to pay tribute to our unsung heroes, the other 700 other men and women who work for Reliance and who have given the Scottish public unstinting service over the life of this contract."

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