When Ben Thomsett moved to the Dales from Lincolnshire one year ago, he would smugly tell friends they would have to visit the beautiful, tranquil area he now called home.
But after the events that took place on August 7, the smugness in Ben’s voice has all but disappeared.
While walking home from his local shop in Cromford, Ben was accosted on the pavement by a man and threatened with a knife.
“I was on the phone to my partner at the time, minding my own business, when this man stuck his arm out in front of me and shouted ‘are you going to give me a problem?’.”
Ben told his increasingly worried partner that he would call back and hung up the phone.
“I was contemplating getting a punch thrown at me when his hand went into his hoodie and re-appeared with a knife,” said Ben.
As a former high security prison officer, Ben has experienced having a knife pulled on him before, but had believed those days were behind him.
“In my distant memory I remembered what I’d been trained to do while working in prison and put both my hands upwards in a nonthreatening gesture and calmly told him that I presented him no harm,” Ben said.
After a little more commotion, Ben was able to “calmly back away” enough to get out of range of him. At that point Ben’s attacker staggered off.
Now Ben was left wondering what to do. Leave it for fear of reprisal? Hide outside the shop and wait for him to come out? Run?
Ben decided the best bet was to call police and keep the attacker in sight as he was fearful that somebody else might suffer his fate – but not have such a lucky escape.
The police arrived about seven minutes later and arrested Ben’s attacker.
“I spent three hours in the police station giving a very thorough statement. They took me back home and promised to ring me later to tell me what he had been charged with,” said Ben.
“So I sat, seething with anger on my sofa. It’s not a nice feeling when something like this has just happened to you. You feel useless, violated, and it’s a very hard task to stop yourself thinking about it.”
At 10.30pm that night, a police officer rang Ben to say his attacker had been cautioned for threatening behaviour and released him back into the community.
“I’m sad that this happened in my village, but I left it at that. It was an isolated incident after all,” said Ben.
But, sadly, it was not an isolated incident as the following week, Matlock was rocked by two other knife attacks – both completely unrelated to Ben’s experience.
“It makes you realise,” said Ben, “knives have flooded our streets – even in the beautiful Dales.
“I certainly am a lot more tense after the events in recent weeks.”