Medal of Valour for brave Damo
QUEENSLAND Police posthumously awarded Detective Senior Constable Damian Leeding the Medal of Valour at his funeral on the Gold Coast yesterday.
In another show of respect for the young detective, NSW police stations flew flags at half-mast.
About 4000 uniformed and plain-clothed police converged on the Gold Coast Convention Centre yesterday in memory of a fellow officer who was shot in the head when he responded to an armed robbery at Pacific Pines Tavern on May 29.
His life support was turned off three days after the shooting.
The funeral of Det Sen Const Leeding, known to his colleagues simply as “Damo”, was a chance for police and the community to come together to honour a man whose passion was to make the Gold Coast a safer place.
Such was the support from police some members were forced to pay their respects outside with the public, who also numbered in the thousands.
Judy Bell, of Broadbeach, was physically moved by the community outpouring at the service. She was also there to pay respect to the young detective.
“I have come here to make a stand,” Ms Bell said.
“My heart goes out to all of the police for doing such an amazing job. I am just so upset that not enough is being done to support them.”
Sen Const Leeding's superior at Coomera, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Procter, said he talked to the young officer only a few hours before he was shot.
‘‘We only spoke for a couple of minutes. Had I known this would be the last time I would ever speak to Damo, I would have had so much more to say,” Det Sen Sgt Procter said.
Family friend Tracy Wilkinson told mourners about the man behind the badge.
“Last time I was asked to speak on behalf of Damian and Sonya it was at their wedding. None of us ever thought the next time I would be speaking on their behalf was at Damian's funeral,” Ms Wilkinson said.
“This career wasn't just a job for Damian, it was a career that he was passionate about,” she said.
Ms Wilkinson said the huge crowd had “rekindled” her faith in people.
Police formed an 800 metre long guard of honour down the Gold Coast Highway after the funeral, with about 150 police motorcycles, as well as dog units, mounted police and other emergency services.