Tributes paid to reluctant police hero of Blackburn's infamous 'Siege of Brewery Street' (From This Is Lancashire)
Tributes paid to reluctant police hero of Blackburn's infamous 'Siege of Brewery Street'
THE reluctant police hero of the infamous ‘Siege of Brewery Street’ will be remembered tomorrow with a funeral service.
As young constable in 1958, Jack Covill was the first to enter the house where armed Henry King had imprisoned seven people including estranged wife Sheila.
PC Covill was shot in the groin and shortly afterwards Mrs King and the head of Blackburn CID James O’Donnell were blasted to death.
Tributes have been paid to the hero, who died peacefully last week, aged 85, at Hollymount Hursing Home.
Mr Covill, who rose to inspector before retiring in 1978, rarely discussed the 1958 ordeal for which he received the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.
Chief Superintendent Bob Eastwood, commander of Lancashire police’s Eastern Division said: “Jack Covill has been described by former colleagues as a real gentleman.
“The situation in 1958 must have been terrifying, especially when his close colleague was murdered. It’s very sad to hear of his passing.”
Retired superintendent Malcolm Rawcliffe, from Rishton, said: “He was a highly respected man.
“Jack was an inspiration in the sense that he made you want to be a better police officer. I hardly ever heard him talk about the siege.
“Jack was the best type of mature, responsible policeman you need in the force.”
Barbara Heywood, who knew him from St Francis’ Church, Cherry Tree, Blackburn, where his funeral will take place, said: “He was a good man and a great support to all.”
The siege began at 10pm on December 12, 1958, when King, who had been drinking heavily, went to see Sheila at her parents’ house, where she had moved with baby son David.
Three plain clothes officers were sent and PC Covill led the way in.
A shot was fired, wounding him in the groin. PCs Jack Riley and Peter Helliwell helped him from the house.
Seconds later, another shot rang out when King blasted his wife in the back. She died instantly.
Det Insp O’Donnell was called and without warning was shot fatally in the chest before the house was stormed with tear gas and dogs.
Mr Covill presented bravery medals in memory of Inspector O’Donnell in 2003 to four officers who arrested a mentally-ill armed killer.
He was married to the late May, had two children and two grandchildren.
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