Last December, Dr. Matthew Smith happened upon a traumatic scene where a mentally ill man inspired by the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby, had slashed the neck of American Musician Lyle Zimmerman. Along with a small group of other passers by, Dr. Smith showed conspicuous bravery. This week, the City of London Sheriffs decided that his bravery in the decisions and actions he took resulting in the survival of the victim, was worthy of their award.
The City of London Sheriffs’ Award for Bravery was presented to Dr. Matthew Smith on 3rd November 2016 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.
Dr Matthew 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 of Dr Smith for “courageously and selflessly” remaining with the victim throughout the attack.
The Sheriffs’ Award, which was introduced shortly after the 2007 London tube and bus bombings, now widely known as “7/7” 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 Company representatives and the Sheriffs of the City of London, it was agreed that the award should be presented to Dr. Smith.
On the evening of 5th December 2015 Dr. Matthew Smith was returning home after an eleven hour shift at Homerton University Hospital. He was confronted with a chaotic situation in which a 56 year old musician Mr. Lyle Zimmerman was lying in a pool of blood. Unfortunately for Mr. Zimmerman a minute or so before he had been confronted with a schizophrenic knifeman, Muhiddin Mire, who was on an Islamic State inspired rampage at the Tube station. With no thought for his own safety and with no medical equipment, Dr. Smith immediately began giving medical aid to the victim. What made his selflessness and bravery even more compelling was the fact that as he was concentrating all his attention on the victim, Dr. Smith was clearly not in a position to defend himself against any further attack from the assailant who remained in the ticket hall, still armed with the knife and lunging and threatening passengers.
While a number of people have been commended who contributed to the limitation of casualties at the scene, including bravely distracting 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 a jumper, which was used initially to stem the bleeding, Dr. Smith knew that specialist equipment, only paramedics would carry, could save Mr. Zimmerman’s life. He knew that paramedics would not 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.
Police were on the scene within five minutes of the call and after using their Tasers managed to take control of the scene and detain the suspect. The incident was captured on camera and the footage was circulated across the world; drawing comment and coverage across international news sources. Mire was sentenced to life imprisonment and will be held at maximum security Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital until he is well enough to be moved to prison. Thanks to the bravery of Dr. Smith, which was acknowledged by His Honour Judge Hilliard at the Old Bailey trial, Mr. Zimmerman made a good recovery after several days in hospital.
The Sheriffs’ Award is launched annually in February with the winner selected by the Sheriffs in the Autumn of the same year. As in previous years, the Company received a substantial number of high quality nominations. As part of this award Dr. Smith will receive a cheque for £2,500. His name will be inscribed on an Honours Board and placed in a Book of Honour, which are both on permanent display within the Central Criminal Court, The Old Bailey. This award is open to nominations from the general public, the business community, emergency services and the armed forces.