September 18 2014 Latest news:

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An off-duty policeman has been hailed for bravery after he rescued a woman from an attacker who was armed with two snooker balls wrapped in a sheet.

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Sgt John MacAninch was handed a commendation for his heroism in stopping the attack in May last year, which had the victim fearing for her life and left her with broken ribs and arms.

The 43-year-old had jumped out of bed after being awoken at 2am by the woman’s screams, emanating from a garden near his home.

He leapt into action and tackled the man without considering his own safety, managing to take him down single-handedly in the face of attacks with the makeshift weapon.

He restrained the culprit until other officers arrived.

The Islington sergeant, who is in charge of the Mildmay Safer Neighbourhoods team, said: “I acted on a combination of instinct and training, and would have no hesitation in doing it again. I am proud of my award and am pleased that my actions have been recognised.”

The incident took place near Sgt MacAnich’s Hertfordshire home.

Emirali Okcay, 20, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm at St Albans Crown Court last October and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, with a lifetime restraining order.

Sgt MacAninch was praised by the trial judge, who said he exceeded the call of duty, while the victim said she was “positive” she would have died without his intervention.

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