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Retired St Austell police officer Geoff Symes dies after tree fall

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 08, 2013

Geoff Symes

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A retired police officer died after falling from a tree while he was cutting branches.

Geoff Symes was a popular figure in St Austell, Cornwall, where he lived.

The tragedy happened on Sunday on Long Park Way, Bethel, at about 12.30pm.

St Austell police inspector Stuart Gibbons said it appeared Mr Symes had hit the ground headfirst suffering "traumatic" injuries.

The former police officer was airlifted by RAF helicopter to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth but was pronounced dead soon after arrival.

Mr Gibbons said an investigation would be carried out, adding: "It appears to have been a very tragic accident."

Mr Symes, in his 50s, was a member of St Austell Golf Club. Yesterday flags were flying at half-mast as a sign of respect.

A spokesman for the club said: "It's extremely sad and I think everyone here is pretty shocked."

Mr Symes retired from the Devon and Cornwall force in 2007 after a 33-year career.

He was just a month shy of his 16th birthday when he joined the police cadets.

He served for two years in the role in Plymouth before becoming a senior cadet in Camborne.

My Symes later returned to Plymouth as a police officer.

His bravery shone throughout his career and he earned a commendation for risking his own life to save a man threatening to throw himself off a giant crane being used to build the Theatre Royal in the city.

He and two other officers climbed the crane to reach the troubled man, then carried him down to the ground.

Mr Symes went on to join the ranks of the Criminal Investigations Department as a detective.

Promotion to sergeant took him back to uniformed policing, first in St Austell and then, in 1993, to Newquay.

A second commendation came in 1994 after he was called to a siege situation in Fraddon where a man was being held hostage by a person brandishing a knife.

Later he was assigned as team leader for the investigation into the death of 74-year-old Joan Roddam, who was found dead near her isolated bungalow in Delabole in November 2003.

Despite about two years of hard work on the case, it remains unsolved.

For the last 18 months of his career he worked on neighbourhood policing at St Columb.

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