Murder of top officer still hurts 35 years on

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A FORMER police chief has paid tribute to a colleague shot dead in one of Blackpool's most infamous murders.

Today, on the 35th anniversary of the murder of Supt Gerry Richardson, his former colleague Ken Mackay was thinking back to the day that left Blackpool stunned.

Supt Richardson, 38, took a bullet point-blank while chasing a gang of London thugs who had robbed a resort jewellers.

The five-man group bungled the raid on Preston's Jewellers in The Strand.

They arrived late and failed to check a back room where the shop manager had already raised a silent alarm connected to Blackpool Police Station.

As the gang made their getaway they became involved in a high-speed chase through the streets of North Shore which ended with Supt Richardson's tragic murder at the hands of "Fat" Freddie Sewell.

Former Blackpool Chief Superintendent Ken Mackay of Carleton was one of the officers involved in the chase and remembers the tragic events of August 23,1971.

He said: "It's as clear today as it was then. It was an horrendous day.

"I never saw Gerry that day because the gunmen split up and Gerry went one way and I went the other. I ended up arresting two of the men and was involved with the interviews afterwards.

"Gerry was a fine officer who was extremely well respected by the men.

"I knew him mostly from playing football against him.

"He was a great footballer and cricketer, a fantastic sportsman."

The chase – which saw Sewell spray the street with bullets, wounding two officers – ended in an alley off Sherbourne Road where Supt Richardson grappled with Sewell.

Sewell grabbed Supt Richardson by the throat then shot the officer in the stomach.

He died later in hospital as the highest ranking officer ever to be killed on duty.

Mr Mackay was one of 20 Lancashire policemen who went to London to track down 39-year-old car dealer Sewell in a Holloway flat.

The five gang members were jailed for a combined 93 years.

Mr Mackay was awarded the George Medal for his actions that day along with a number of officers including Supt Richardson, who was granted the honour posthumously.

Mr Mackay added: "Every time I see something about a police officer being killed it takes me back to that day.

"I'm not sure the public realise what sort of danger the police are in every day.

"I look at the job as it is now and think I wouldn't like to be there.

"But when I have spoken to young police officers they seem to enjoy it so who am I to say anything?"

"Fat" Freddie Sewell was released from prison in 2001 after serving a 30-year sentence for the murder.

Mr Mackay later said Sewell – who amassed a fortune through property deals he made while inside jail – should have been hung for his colleague's murder

The Supt Gerald Richardson Memorial Youth Trust was set up in 1978 and has given hundreds of thousands of pounds to help youngsters realise sporting dreams.

A plaque to Supt Richardson adorns the wall in the Memorial Room at Collegiate High School which he attended as a boy.

His grave at Layton Cemetery is inscribed with the words: "Good men must die for the cause of justice and the law, but death cannot kill their names."

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