Man’s 12-hour ordeal at Beachy Head cliffs

POLICE and Beachy Head chaplains went to the Holywell, Sugar Loaf, area just east of Beachy Head shortly before 7.30pm on Tuesday (April 5), after reports that a man was on the cliff in a distressed state.

They made swift contact with the man, who is 37 and not from the Sussex area. Police negotiators also went to the scene and talked to the man who was concealed deep in a bush by the cliff.

Due to his distressed state, great care was taken to try to ensure his safety and contact with him was maintained by police overnight, during which period he was left to have periods of reflection and sleep if he wished. Officers spoke to and checked on him several times during the morning.

Just after 12.15pm today (Wednesday) it became clear that he had slipped away through undergrowth during one of the periods in which police were standing back.

A search was mounted and he was spotted by a PCSO in Terminus Road, Eastbourne, shortly before 2pm. The man ran off and climbed into the roof area above staff toilets in the adjacent Royal Mail building where police immediately contained him. 

He was arrested a few minutes later and is currently in custody at Eastbourne awaiting interview. Nobody was injured during this incident.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Our priority throughout was to try to ensure the safety of the man as well as any other members of the public.

“It was important to keep the man as calm as possible and this meant that officers could not approach him as closely as they might otherwise have done.

“During one of the periods when they were standing back he managed to slip away but thanks to a swift response and search of the area he was found in the town shortly afterwards.”