A HERO police officer has told how he faced the most shocking experience of his career when he battled to save the life of an attempted murder victim.

PC David Catt was one of the first on the scene when Amanda O'Riordan was stabbed at her home in Polegate last year.

Stemming her bleeding with his hands and personally driving her by ambulance to the hospital not only saved her life but has now won him an award for his bravery.

Speaking exclusively to The Argus, the road traffic officer said he felt "helpless" when he realised how badly injured she was.

Arriving at Guardian Court at 10pm on October 22 he passed a man with blood on his clothes in the doorway as he rushed to the bedroom.

He found a distressed Amanda O'Riordan lying on the bed bleeding heavily from chest and back wounds.

Pulling on rubber gloves, the 50-year-old put pressure on her chest with his hands and reassured her as they waited for the paramedics to arrive.

Her condition was so critical both paramedics needed to be by her side so he drove the ambulance to the hospital.

Later he discovered the man who stood calmly aside in the doorway was not a helpful informant but councillor Joseph O'Riordan, the jealous husband who had stabbed his wife eight times.

PC Catt said: "As a traffic officer you often see horrific injuries but this was one of those jobs which was completely out of the ordinary.

"It stuck with me for a long time and I was quite shocked.

"She was concious but I was worried she wasn't going to survive. I felt helpless. It was clear she was in a very bad way.

"I put my hands on her chest to stem the bleeding and just kept talking to her and trying to reassure her and keep her calm.

"She was very distressed and knew she was badly hurt.

"When the paramedics got here I asked if there was anything I could do to help and they said 'drive the ambulance' so they could be in the back with her."

He said it was "chilling" to learn the man he met in the hallway was the culprit, adding: "He was still standing there when we arrived.

"There was a small amount of blood on his shirt and he was really, really calm.

"Initially we thought he was the informant. Usually with an attacker they might try and fight you or run off."

PC Catt's actions were praised alongside other colleagues who put the safety of others before their own at a Sussex Police awards ceremony in Haywards Heath.

While PC Catt was touched by the commendation, he said it meant more when Mrs O'Riordan visited the police station to thank officers who saved her life.

He added: "It was really nice to see her in a different light."

The police officer of 18 years, who has worked in the traffic department for a decade, is also a family liaison officer based at Polegate Police Station. He lives nearby with his wife and one-year-old daughter.

O'Riordan was found guilty of trying to murder his 47-year-old wife after her short-lived affair with a postman. He was jailed for 20 years in a case where the court heard he tried to hide evidence. Judge Shani Barnes said the mental and physical impact on Mrs O'Riordan was horrendous and she did not believe he showed genuine remorse.

The president of the Polegate branch of the Royal British Legion was also a councillor for Polegate North Ward at the time of the incident. He was later disqualified.