New Mandurah police officer brings reputation as a hero with him


Constable Rich Barnes and his wife Jayne.
Constable Rich Barnes and his wife Jayne.

FIRST Class Constable Rich Barnes brought many things with him when he moved to Mandurah, including a hero’s reputation.

Constable Barnes was recognised last week for saving a stabbing victim’s life in England in 2015.

However, he claims what he did was no different to what many police officers do every day.

It was the start of the English winter and Constable Barnes was on mobile patrol with his partner in Blandford Forum, Dorset.

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What they didn’t know at the time was that a man had been repeatedly stabbed and was bleeding to death in a nearby garden.

It wasn’t the first time Constable Barnes had been in this situation.

“But the victim was the most severely injured I’ve had to deal with in 12 years as a policeman,” he said.

It was a trail of blood that led the officers to the man. He was unconscious and had no pulse.

The vulnerable officers had no idea where the assailant was at the time.

“Your training kicks in, so (my) first thoughts were ‘is he breathing and where is all the blood coming from?’,” he said.

“Then after he began breathing, I was aware we didn’t know where the attacker was.”

The first aid provided by Constable Barnes and his partner was enough to keep the victim alive until the ambulance arrived.

Constable Barnes joined the WA Police in June last year, but the accolades have only just caught up with him.

Deputy Commissioner Stephen Brown said Constable Barnes’ actions showed that overseas police officers brought a wealth of know-how with them to WA.

“I’m pleased to be able to present a commendation on behalf of the Dorset Police Chief Constable and a further commendation on behalf of the resident Judge of Dorchester Crown Court Peter Johnson, who have both publicly acknowledged the actions of (Constable) Barnes and his partner in relation to this matter,” he said.

Constable Barnes said he felt humbled Dorset Police took the trouble to send the commendation to the “other side of the world”.

“I’m amazingly touched that WA Police felt it was important enough to award it to me,” he said.

He said his family, including wife Jayne, were also proud of what he did.

“But they have always been supportive of what I do,” he said.

“It’s not easy for the families of police officers because of what we potentially face each day.”

Constable Barnes said he came to Australia because he wanted a new challenge.

“I recognised there were more opportunities here for my family than in the UK at that time and the quality of life looked better,” he said.

“So far I’ve been proved right. My wife and three children are loving life here.

“The only negative is the distance from our parents, siblings and close (UK) friends.”

There was little difference between policing practices in the two countries, according to Constable Barnes.

“Policing seems to be pretty much universal. There’s different procedures and priorities, but all in all it’s very similar,” he said.

“Apart from the fact I now carry firearms.”

Constable Barnes said he’d do it all again.

“It’s part of the job. Police officers around the world face these sorts of incidents daily,” he said.

As for the critically injured man he saved, he was released from hospital soon after and was able to thank Constable Barnes for saving his life.