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18 Apr

Mick Horne followed his police instincts and it cost him his life

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Mel Horne and son, Tom, who are in Sydney to commemorate husband and father Mick Horne (inset) at National Police Remembrance Day. Photo: Dominic LorrimerFor 24 years Mel Horne knew her husband’s work put him in danger.
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As a NSW Police officer for the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, then-Senior Constable Mick Horne was often the man between dangerous or drunk drivers, and other innocent users of the road.

Long shifts, late nights and fatalities were just a part of the job.

“When they are in the force, it’s always in the back of your mind … something might happen one day, something could go wrong,” she said.

Once Mr Horne retired as a senior constable in 2009, there was no longer a need to worry; surely they were in the clear.

A career in policing was a life-long dream for Mick Horne. Photo: NSW Police

But on June 1 this year the 54-year-old retired officer again put himself in harm’s way, when he risked his own life and fell victim to another man’s alleged hammer attack.

Mr and Mrs Horne had been driving home from Bega to Merimbula when they allegedly drove into the path of Murray Deakin, a 20-year-old man who had allegedly stabbed both his grandparents Gail and Thomas Winner at their Bega home, before fleeing in their vehicle just hours earlier.

Mrs Winner later died.

Driving along Sapphire Coast Drive, Bournda, Mr Horne noticed a car driving erratically and with his policing instincts still sharp, decided to “call it in” and report the number plate.

When Mr Horne stopped his car, the man allegedly struck him in the head with a hammer, before stealing his car. Mrs Horne escaped without injury.

Mr Deakin was later arrested after a five-hour manhunt and has since been charged with two counts of murder and two counts of wounding with intent to murder, among others.

He will next appear before Bega Local Court on October 23.

On Friday, Mr Horne will be one of more than 270 police officers acknowledged for their courage and sacrifice at National Police Remembrance Day services across the state.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the day was a reminder of the constant dangers that come with a police officer’s oath to protect.

“These men and women often place themselves in harm’s way, risking their own lives to help others,” he said.

“Their determination to protect the community sometimes has tragic outcomes and our duty is to ensuretheir courage and selfless action is never forgotten.”

Retired police officer Mick Horne, 54, who was killed in June this year.

Almost three months since his shock death, Mr Horne’s wife and son Tom, 29, have travelled to Sydney to commemorate the former officer, for whom a career in policing was a life-long dream.

And yet they still laugh at the reason it nearly didn’t happen.

Before 1986 Mr Horne was about 1.5 centimetres away from the 174-centimetre height minimum required to don the blue uniform.

“He did everything he could. He went to the chiropractor to be stretched, he lay flat [on the way] to his interview … but he didn’t get in, because they knew he was half an inch too short,” said Mrs Horne.

Luckily for Mr Horne, by 1986 NSW became the first police jurisdiction in to do away with minimum height requirements for officers, placing him front and centre for the force’s first intake in 1987.

When he was forced to retire early due to injury, he declined the option of a role behind a desk, because he “wouldn’t actually be out there, stopping people doing wrong. That’s just what he was about.”

Mr Horne was awarded a medal in 2004 for his 15 years as an officer.

On Wednesday his name was added to the Memorial Wall at the Sydney Police Centre in Surry Hills, in recognition of his bravery and service to the community.

“It’s nice to think people will walk past it and know he’s so much more than what happened to him,” Mrs Horne said.


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