Reliance honours officers for putting their lives on line

Campbell O'Connell with Kevin McDonagh, Guy Busby and Gary Liddle
Campbell O'Connell with Kevin McDonagh, Guy Busby and Gary Liddle
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A RELIANCE officer who was dragged under the wheels of a vehicle after pursuing a runaway carjacker is among three Reliance prison officers honoured for their bravery.

Gary Liddle was praised for attempting to stop prisoner William Williams after he escaped custody, stole a Ford Fiesta and tore through Holyrood Park last year.

The 30-year-old, from Tollcross, was knocked unconscious during the incident in May.

The escape sparked a police pursuit across the Capital before Williams crashed into a bollard and flipped the vehicle on to its roof in Leith.

As the Evening News later revealed, the 27-year-old had a string of convictions for high-speed pursuits and violence and was jailed for five years.

Speaking about his ordeal for the first time, Mr Liddle said he tried to prevent Williams from making off after stopping a young woman in Holyrood Park.

He said: “I was right behind him when he managed to get a woman 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 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.”

Alongside Mr Liddle was colleague Kevin McDonagh, 40, from Fauldhouse, West Lothian, who prevented the former boyfriend of murdered Samantha Wright from setting fire to her killer as he left the High Court last May.

Last month Alistair Gibb, 32, was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to endangering the lives of Robert Chalmers and the two Reliance officers.

Mr McDonagh was waiting inside his van as a colleague brought Chalmers out of the court. Gibb doused Chalmers with petrol then tried to barge his way on to the van.

Recalling the drama, Mr McDonagh 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.”

“With the amount of petrol he had splashed about I have no doubt there would have been at least three fatalities.”

Reliance presented the awards to its officers after its seven-year prisoner transfer contract came to an end.

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

“They are a credit to themselves and to Reliance