Man awarded for stopping terrifying attack on young woman

A member of the public has been praised by the Chief Constable for rescuing a young woman who was being horrifically attacked.
Joe Smalley with DCC Ian PillingJoe Smalley with DCC Ian Pilling
Joe Smalley with DCC Ian Pilling

Last Halloween at 10.30pm Joe Smalley and his partner were about to go to bed when Joe heard a woman’s scream from outside.

Recognising the sound as untypical of Halloween high jinks, Joe opened his curtains and looked out of his bedroom window and saw a man forcibly dragging a young woman into an alleyway.

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Quickly grabbing his shoes and a torch, Joe ran outside and down the alleyway where he found a lady’s handbag on the floor, but no sign of either the woman or the man. As the alleyway backed on to a number of garages, Joe decided to search the area.

After some time Joe found the young woman knelt on the ground and obviously distressed. At that moment Joe heard a sound behind him.

As Joe turned around he saw the man from earlier charging towards him with a Stanley knife in hand. The man attempted an overhead slash, which Joe managed to block but was severely cut across the fingers. Joe hit the man across the head, knocking him to the ground. As Joe looked back to check on the woman, the attacker made good his escape.

Joe assured the young woman that she was no longer in danger and help would be called for. Taking her back to his home, Joe and his partner calmed the woman and rang for the police and an ambulance to attend.

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After the emergency services arrived it later emerged that the young woman, aged only 18, was walking home from Hazel Grove train station when she was followed and grabbed from behind. As the assailant held the Stanley knife to her throat, he forced her down the alleyway.

Joe provided the police with a witness statement and full description of the attacker. Unfortunately, even with Joe’s help and a thorough investigation by GMP, the perpetrator is yet to be caught.

Recognising Joe’s courageous actions that Halloween night, Greater Manchester Police awarded Joe with a Chief Constable’s Commendation for Bravery.

Joe was presented with the award, on behalf of Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, by Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling at a ceremony last month.

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Speaking of what happened that night, Joe said “It was nothing but instinct that said I had to go out and check that everything was alright. My Dad would have done the same and that’s the way I was brought up, to look out for each other.

“I can’t imagine the trauma that the young lady went through, but I am aware that things could have been a lot worse for the both of us.”

On being awarded the Chief Constable Commendation, Joe continued “I’m very humble about receiving the award. At the time I don’t think I did anything out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until the ceremony itself when a number of police officers approached me and said that I’d done a good thing, that it really hit me.

“I just hope someone would help me or my partner if either of us were in a dangerous situation.

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“The whole experience has made me really appreciate the good work carried out by the police, which the public are often unaware of.”

After presenting Joe with his award, DCC Ian Pilling said “Without hesitation or regard to his own safety Joe rushed to the aid of a young woman who was being attacked.

“Although the distressing events of that night will no doubt stay with the young lady for the rest of her life, Joe’s selfless actions stopped a traumatic experience from potentially becoming fatal.

“Joe should be immensely proud of what he did, and I’m sure the people of Greater Manchester will join me in congratulating him on receiving his award for bravery.