A HERO Greenock police officer has told how he thought he was going to die as a man frantically stabbed him in a terrifying knife attack.

Constable Kenny MacKenzie has spoken publicly for the first time about the harrowing ordeal he suffered alongside colleague Laura Sayer at Gateside Gardens in June.

The officers, plus fellow constable Finlay Dobson and a fourth colleague who cannot be named, last night won the Scottish Police Federation Bravery Award for disarming and restraining the attacker.

Constable MacKenzie said: “I remember him back on top of me and he was frantically stabbing at me and I remember the thought going through my head was ‘I’m not going home tonight.”

PC Sayer added: “It’s been extremely tough.
“It’s somewhere you don’t ever expect to be.
“But we’re both still here.”

Constables MacKenzie and Sayer had been called to a house to assist a medic in a mental health assessment. 
When it was suggested that the man, William Taylor, be sectioned, he attacked Constable MacKenzie with a large knife. 

PC Sayer said: “He said that he wasn’t happy to go and the doctor at that point said that he was going to detain him under the Mental Health Act, and as soon as he said that he just lunged off the couch and went for Kenny.

“He pulled a knife out of the waistband of his trousers and started punching and stabbing at Kenny.”

Constable MacKenzie was stabbed several times in the neck and body as he tried to disarm Taylor.

He said: “I was on my back on the worktop and he was frantically stabbing at my body armour, at my neck and at my head.

“I couldn’t get any equipment out at that time to defend myself.

“I was using my hands to push the knife away and my hands were all cut from the knife.

“It was fear, panic, dread.”

Taylor then turned his knife on Constable Sayer, stabbing her in the neck and arm, leaving her with such severe nerve damage to one of her hands that she was unable to work for several months. 

She had been in the job for just 12 weeks at the time of the attack.

Constable Sayer said: “I knew I had to get his attention so I shouted to him ‘PAVA!’ to let him know that I had the PAVA [incapacitant spray] out. I then ran out of the flat and he followed me into the close and down the stairs.

“At that point he managed to back me up against the wall and was stabbing at my chest.

“I was down on the floor and he was stabbing in at my head and that’s the point when I think he caught my arm.”

Constable MacKenzie added: “By the time I got down to the bottom of the stairs, Laura was pinned into the corner so I’ve struck him with the baton but because my hands were sweaty and possibly covered with blood, I lost grip of the baton and it fell on the floor.

“So all I had to do was grab him and pull him off Laura.

“I remember him back on top of me and he was frantically stabbing at me.”

Despite their serious injuries, both officers continued to try and bring Taylor under control and prevent him from harming the two medical officers who were there. 

When he managed to escape from the house, the officers called for back up and pursued him into the street.

When Constable Finlay Dobson arrived, he used his car to try and stop Taylor from going any further. 

When he refused to drop the knife, Constable Dobson, despite being on his own and with no thought for his own safety, took hold of Taylor and attempted to disarm him. 

It took a further five officers to finally bring Taylor under control.

Constable Dobson said: “As soon as the call came in, it was just a case of worrying about what your colleagues are dealing with and basically the main thing was getting there as quickly as you can.

“As soon as we’ve turned up obviously we’ve seen the guy still armed with a knife and intent on possibly harming Kenny or a member of the public.

“I used the vehicle to try to create a bit of distance between us and him and then he’s made off on foot after trying to stab me in the vehicle.

“We’ve chased him onto another road and then other police turned up and blocked his path and he dropped the knife.”

A fourth officer was involved in the incident and provided first aid support and comfort to her colleagues until medical assistance arrived. 

Humza Yousaf, the justice secretary, presented the four officers with the overall Scottish Police Federation Bravery Award at a ceremony in Edinburgh last night.

He said: “These officers are a shining example of the extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism that are frequently demonstrated by our Scottish Police Force but which often go unrecognised.

“I am delighted to present this award to these exemplary officers.” 

Taylor, 43, was charged with attempting to kill PCs MacKenzie and Sayer before being acquitted and detained for psychiatric treatment.