Junior Doctor Matthew Smith receives City of London Sheriffs’ Award for Bravery

The 2016 City of London Sheriffs’ Award for Bravery was presented to Dr Matthew Smith on Thursday 3 November at Salters’ Hall, London by Sheriff Peter Estlin and Sheriff William Russell, Aldermanic Sheriffs of the City of London based at the Central Criminal Court (‘the Old Bailey’) where they support Her Majesty’s Judges.

Smith was nominated for the Sheriffs’ Bravery Award by His Honour Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, the Recorder of London and the senior Judge at the Central Criminal Court who tried the Leytonstone Underground ‘terror case’ in June of this year. Judge Hilliard commended Dr Smith for “courageously and selflessly” remaining with the victim throughout the attack that took place.

The Sheriffs’ Award was introduced shortly after the 2007 London tube and bus bombings to recognise outstanding acts of bravery by individuals from across the UK. Every year since then, the Sheriffs have sought nominations for members of the public who have, without thought for their own safety, acted to confront danger in a selfless and inspirational way.

Following rigorous review of all nominations by representatives from The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals* and the Sheriffs of the City of London, it was duly agreed that this year’s award should be presented to Dr Smith.

Background to the episode

On the evening of Saturday 5 December last year, Dr Smith was returning home after an eleven-hour shift at Homerton University Hospital. He was met with a chaotic situation in which a 56 year-old musician named Lyle Zimmerman was lying in a pool of blood. Unfortunately for Zimmerman, a minute or so earlier he had been confronted by a schizophrenic knifeman, namely Muhiddin Mire, who was on an Islamic State-inspired rampage at Leytonstone London Underground Station.

With no thought for his own safety an no medical equipment to hand, Dr Smith immediately began administering medical aid to the victim. What made his selflessness and bravery even more compelling was the fact that, as Dr Smith was concentrating all his attention on the victim, he was clearly not in a position to defend himself against any further attack from the assailant who remained in the station’s ticket hall, still armed with the knife and intermittently lunging at and threatening passengers.

While a number of people have been commended for contributing towards limitation of casualties at the scene, including acts of bravery that distracted the assailant, Dr Smith managed to maintain his composure and collect his thoughts enough to apply his medical knowledge to the situation.

Having evaluated the injury by lifting the victim’s jumper, which was initially used to stem the bleeding, Dr Smith knew that specialist equipment only paramedics would carry could save Zimmerman’s life. He also recognised that paramedics wouldn’t be able to attend the violent scene so he managed to raise the man to his feet, and slowly guide him to a place where the paramedics would be able to attend to him in conditions of safety.

Taking control of the scene

Police officers attended the scene within five minutes of an emergency call being received and, after using their Tasers, managed to take control of the scene and detain the suspect.

The incident was captured on CCTV cameras and the footage circulated across the world, drawing comment and coverage across international news sources.

Mire was later sentenced to life imprisonment and will be held at the maximum security Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital until such time that he’s well enough to be moved to a state prison.

Thanks to the bravery of Dr Smith, which was acknowledged by His Honour Judge Hilliard at the Old Bailey trial, Zimmerman made a good recovery after several days spent in hospital.

High quality nominations

The Sheriffs’ Award is launched in February each year with the winner selected by the Sheriffs in the Autumn of the same year. As in previous years, The Worshipful Company received a substantial number of high quality nominations for 2016.

As part of this award, Dr Smith receives a cheque for £2,500. His name will be inscribed on an Honours Board and placed in a Book of Honour, both of which are on permanent display within the Central Criminal Court.

This award is open to nominations from the general public, the business community, the Emergency Services and the Armed Forces.

*The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals is one of the 110 Livery Companies of the City of London. The Worshipful Company is a membership and charitable organisation providing support to the wider education community and important welfare services to the security sector. Membership is drawn from all security organisations within the UK, including leading security professionals from the industrial and retail sectors, serving and retired members of the police and the Armed Forces, security consultants, academics, heads of security for corporate businesses and private investigators

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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