2021-01-13

Bridgewater officer back to work five months after being stabbed

by KEITH CORCORAN

  • <p>SOURCE: FACEBOOK/BRIDGEWATER POLICE SERVICE</p><p>Sgt. Matt Bennett, pictured, returned to active duty January 6. The senior officer was off-duty for five months, recovering from a stabbing he sustained while on-duty investigating a domestic assault call.</p>

Bridgewater Police Sgt. Matt Bennett, knifed in the neck while on-duty dealing with a domestic violence call in the summer, is back on the job following five months recovering from his injuries.

The Bridgewater Police Service released a message on social media welcoming back the senior officer, who began a return-to-work program January 6.

"I'm extremely grateful for all the messages and encouragement that I've received from the community and my colleagues over the past several months," Bennett, who's been with the municipal department about 14 years, said in the statement released by the town.

"The support that's been expressed says a lot about the Bridgewater area and our residents here, and I'm glad to be back on duty working for and with our community."

The town's mayor shared in the joy of Bennett's return.

"Obviously, after the incident in the summer, our primary focus was his health and well-being," David Mitchell told LighthouseNOW in an email. "Matt worked really hard on his recovery and the result of that effort is his return to work ..."

After being stabbed July 20, 2020, Bennett, who's in his early 30s and from Newfoundland and Labrador, underwent surgery and spent more than a week in hospital. He was among officers who responded to a west side hotel to deal with a late night disturbance between a man and woman. At some point inside the hotel, Bennett was injured but he remained lucid enough to radio for an ambulance, warn colleagues about a man with a knife on the loose and call for more help to respond.

The incident started what would be a week-long manhunt for a fugitive, which ended in the early morning hours of July 26 after law enforcement responded to an attempted auto theft in Hebbville.

Authorities zeroed on a heat signature using infrared technology and found a suspect in a tree at about 12:50 a.m.

Police charged Tobias Charles Doucette, 32, of Bridgewater, with trying to kill Bennett, among other allegations, including assaulting a second Bridgewater officer, Cst. Jamie Dearing, with an edged weapon, and stabbing RCMP police dog Fergus with a stick. Dearing wasn't seriously hurt and remains on active duty, while a Wileville veterinary clinic is credited with saving the dog's life.

Doucette, who's elected to have his Nova Scotia Supreme Court trial heard by a justice and jury, is testing the Crown's case in a preliminary inquiry this year.

The two-day hearing, which is available to accused facing serious types of charges, takes place in June to determine if there's enough evidence to send the allegations to trial.

Doucette is free on non-cash bail secured by sureties. The charges against him have not been tested in court and his is presumed innocent.

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