'Legend' who tripped up suspected drug dealer revealed as soldier
Published 11/02/2016 | 15:26
A man who tripped up a suspected drug dealer running from police has been revealed as a soldier, who said his military training kicked in when he saw the chase.
Lance Sergeant Matthew Lawson had just treated his wife to an early Valentine's evening out in Kingston upon Thames, south west London, on Saturday when they saw the teenager running towards them, pursued on foot by police.
Footage of the moment Lance Sergeant Lawson is seen casually sticking out his foot, causing the suspect to fall, was shared online and has been viewed thousands of times.
Kingston Police appealed for the mystery man, who they dubbed a "legend", to come forward so they could thank him for his help.
The 37-year-old soldier from Derby is a euphonium player in the Band of the Scots Guards, and will play for the Queen on her 90th birthday in June.
Lance Sergeant Lawson, who is based in Wellington Barracks beside Buckingham Palace, said: "I heard a shout: 'Stop! Police!' And immediately my military training just kicked in.
"I saw the policemen chasing a guy and I thought: 'He's a bit of a whippet, they'll never catch him.' So I reckoned I'd buy them a few seconds, and just stuck my leg out to trip him up.
"The guy fell and as the police grabbed him, they called back 'cheers, mate, thank you' and my wife and I just continued on our way and thought nothing more of it."
Lance Sergeant Lawson said a friend sent him a message with the clip and the reaction had "just spiralled" from there.
Asked about all the attention since the footage appeared online, he said: "I'm trying not to think about it to be honest."
The solider, who has served in Iraq, Bosnia, Cyprus and Northern Ireland, has had to endure some banter since the incident, with his comrades attempting to post a trip hazard sign on his locker when the news broke.
He said: "I think I managed to catch them before they got round to it."
Pc Brendan Dexter-Beek, who is seen in the footage to detain the suspect after he tripped and fell, said he thinks he would have managed to catch the teen, but added that he is thankful to the soldier for his help.
Laughing, he said: "I reckon I'd have still got him, but that's my personal opinion. Opinions are varied back at the police station. But I'm grateful for the fact that he jumped in."
Glenn Tunstall, Borough Commander of Kingston Police, said while they are very grateful to the soldier for his actions they would not encourage untrained members of the public to intervene in similar situations "because the threat is unknown and the officers obviously have got the equipment and the training."
Lance Sergeant Lawson will be awarded a commendation from Kingston Police this summer for his "courage and bravery", Cmdr Tunstall said.
A 17-year-old boy was arrested after the incident on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.
He was taken to a west London police station and bailed until early April, police said.