A man who fled to Ireland after he tried to kill a police officer has been jailed for 21 years.

Damian Devine, 27, of Allder Way, South Croydon, was found guilty of the attempted murder of PC Wayne Stevens, by a jury at Kingston Crown Court in October.

He was sentenced to 21 years for attempted murder and five years for possession of a firearm.

Devine was also sentenced to nine years for a series of other offences, including possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing expanding ammunition and possessing ammunition without a firearm certificate, to run concurrently.

Judge Nicholas Price, in sentencing, said Devine had an unhealthy obsession with guns. He also praised the courage of PC Wayne Stevens.

He said: “It is a vivid demonstration of the risks police officers take so we can sleep soundly in our beds.

“The consequences of this will leave scars both physically and psychologically. It will remain a mystery what you and your friends were doing that night. You have an obsession and an unhealthy interest in firearms.

“Despite the overwhelming case against you still continued to persist your innocence. You are still in denial.”

The incident happened at about 9pm on July 15.

Residents in Kingsdown Avenue, south Croydon, became suspicious when they noticed three men, one of who was later identified as Devine, hanging around taking photographs of themselves on their mobile phones.

Police were called at about 10pm by residents, when two of the men, one of whom dropped a mobile phone, were arrested.

The mobile phone was later found to have photographs on it taken between 9.55pm and 9.59pm that evening.

The third man, Devine, ran off and PC Stevens gave chase. Shortly into the pursuit, and with approximately 10 feet between them, Devine turned and fired two shots towards the officer.

The first shot hit PC Stevens while the second shot missed. The PC fell to the floor as Devine made off from the scene.

PC Stevens suffered a serious arm fracture and nerve damage.

After the shooting Devine fled to his brother's house in Belfast, where he was arrested on July 20.

During a search of the property in Dunluce Avenue, officers discovered component parts of a 9mm handgun, that once assembled formed a fully working Beretta self-loading pistol.

Forensics confirmed it to be the weapon used to shoot PC Stevens.

Nineteen live, unfired 9mm short calibre cartridges were also found. Eleven were loaded with jacketed round-nose bullets and eight of which were hollow-point bullets.

The baseball cap Devine was wearing on the night of the shooting and clothing with high levels of gun powder residue were also found at the scene.

A search of Devine's Croydon home found a vast quantity of firearm related items including components of a Uzi sub-machine gun, fire cartridges and a laptop, which revealed extensive internet research into firearms and how to put them together.

Chief Superintendent Dave Musker, Borough Commander of Croydon, said: "Devine clearly had no regard for PC Stevens' life when he made the decision to shoot him, not once but twice.

"He is obviously a dangerous individual with an unhealthy interest firearms. His conviction will see him imprisoned behind bars for a long time.

"I would like to pay tribute to PC Stevens for his bravery at the time of this incident and his determination and commitment to return to work despite the devastating injuries he received.

"I hope that the verdict reassures police officers and the wider community of Croydon that we will deal with those individuals who carry and use firearms on our streets in a relentless and robust manner."