Falmouth cop hangs up his helmet after 22 years

Detective Sergeant Dave O'Neill

Detective Sergeant Dave O'Neill

First published in Falmouth/Penryn Falmouth Packet: Photograph of the Author by , Ex-Reporter/Photographer

After 22 years helping to keep the streets of Falmouth and Penryn safe, one well-known sergeant is hanging up his helmet for good this week.

Detective Sergeant Dave O'Neill, who has been at the helm of Falmouth CID for the past three years, will clock off for the final time at midday today (Wednesday).

An ex-Navy man originally from London, Dave moved to Plymouth following the closure of Chatham Dockyard in the 1980's and this is where he first joined the police.

His time in the Devon city was far from uneventful and in 1987 he disarmed a man who threatened him with a shotgun, which won him a bravery award.

A slightly quieter life lay ahead of him in Falmouth, where he was first posted in 1990 having “never been to Cornwall before.”

Although this is, in Dave's own words, “a lovely, chilled place to live” he has still been involved in some traumatic and high profile investigations during his time here - including the brutal murder of Budock councillor Peter Solheim and the paedophile postman Michael Williams.

“I was quite proud to have worked on that one,” Dave said, “and to have helped the kids in Falmouth and Penryn.”

Highly commended throughout his career, he was awarded the Bolitho Staff by the High Sheriff of Cornwall in 2007, “which is top bobby in Cornwall,” he said, “that was a real high.”

Aged just 51, Dave is not planning on taking a back seat in life just yet - although he is looking forward to spending a quiet Christmas with his wife Jeanette at their family home in Penryn, where they raised daughter Emma, now a 30-year-old personal assistant in London and sons Michael, a 25-year-old chief officer in the Royal Navy, and Daniel, a 17-year-old student.

“Having spent so much time here I have got to know so many people,” Dave said.

“They are the most wonderful and warm people and I can say that with my hand on my heart.”

A retirement party will be held next month for Dave with all his close friends and family, although sadly not his father - a former Royal Navy policeman - who died very recently.

"He would have loved to have been there - and I would have loved for him to have been there," Dave said.

Over the next couple of months you will be able to spot Dave “on any lake in West Cornwall,” where he will be indulging in his favourite hobby - carp fishing.

"For a while I'm going to take stock of where I am now, but I intend to work again," he said.

"[In my working life] I have tried to be as fair with people as I possibly could be. Anybody who has come in to contact with me - both professionally and out of work - I hope that's the way I came across.

"It's been difficult, it's been challenging but it has been fantastic and I have always been made to feel welcome.

"I would like to thank my work friends and colleagues, you've been great to work with and don't be strangers

“And anyone who remembers me and knows me - if you do see me, say hello,” he added.

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