Drugs gang ringleader David Jeavons, jailed for a multi-million pound cannabis racket, had been hailed a hero by a police chief constable.
The Chronicle can reveal the 40-year-old former used car salesman turned ostrich farmer, risked his life to dive into the freezing, murky waters of a dock in a bid to rescue a drowning workmate.
Tragically, machine operator driver Paul McComb failed to surface and his body was pulled from Hudson Dock, Sunderland, in December 1991.
For his efforts risking his own life, Jeavons was nominated for a Royal Humane Society award on the recommendation of then Northumbria’s Chief Constable Sir John Stevens.
The testimonial was awarded to Jeavons in October 1992 at a ceremony at Northumbria police headquarters.
Now Jeavons is behind bars after he was jailed for five and half years at Newcastle Crown Court. Detectives from the force’s crime team south found almost a tonne of cannabis worth almost £3million.
Jeavons’ award was outlined to the judge in the case and was taken into consideration with his guilty plea to conspiracy to supply cannabis.
The former trucker lost his job a month after trying to save Mr McComb’s life. He was laid off from Alan Davison (Construction) in Houghton-le-Spring after of a downturn in business.
He repeatedly dived in the dock where temperatures reached -4C after Mr McComb’s vehicle toppled into the water. Mr McComb’s widow, Fiona, then 28, of Washington, said at the time: “He is a remarkably brave man.”
Jeavons, then 27, lived with wife Angela, at Chipchase Crescent, Westerhope. He turned to ostrich farming at Burn Close, Callerton, while being investigated.
A Royal Humane Society spokesman said: “We give awards to those who put their own lives at risk to save, or attempt to save, others.”