Darren Buckley had a few uninvited guests for his birthday barbecue - a squad of gun-toting cops hunting a murder suspect on the loose.
Darren had just received a stripper dressed as a policewoman for his 45th birthday treat from workmates when the boys in blue turned up in force, this time for real.
About 50 guests were enjoying the party at his home in Church Road, Denaby Main, last Saturday when he saw a police ‘SWAT-type’ helmet appear at the back gate. He said: “I walked down and realised he’d got a gun and then saw there was a SWAT team of about six, all armed, with a few more in police cars.
“I’d had a few drinks so I first thought it was another stripper but when I saw police dogs and the helicopter overhead and they started asking about John Heald I knew it was serious.”
Around 150 police officers are searching for 59-year-old John Heald, who is suspected of stabbing a Bridlington hotel landlady to death last Friday. Heald is from the Rotherham area and was known to have returned to South Yorkshire.
It turned out one of Heald’s friends, who lives in Denaby Main, was a guest at the party and police thought he might be hiding in Darren’s semi.
“I’d never heard of John Heald but it turns out one of the guests had contact with him but I wasn’t aware of that when the police arrived.
“The cops were here for a good half hour. I had to get everyone out of the house while I went round with them and they searched every room.
“When they finished they shook my hand and thanked me for my co-operation. It made for a party to remember, I don’t think we can better that. It certainly gave the guests a topic of conversation.”
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “As part of the investigation to locate John Heald a house on Church Road was searched by officers. Police received legitimate information to suggest John Heald may have been at that address and the response was proportionate given the potential danger to the public.”