A SERVING Gwent Police officer was found dead at his home in mysterious circumstances after a chemical incident closed his street.
Police Constable Rowan Helps, 32, of Lilian Grove, Ebbw Vale was found by ambulance paramedics after being alerted by a relative just before 2pm on Wednesday.
Officers are not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident and tests are being carried out on unknown chemicals found at his terraced house to determine exactly what they are.
PC Helps, who worked locally, had been under investigation by Gwent Police and suspended from the force.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been notified about his death which is being treated as unexplained.
Deputy Chief Constable, Jeff Farrar said: “This is a tragic situation and our thoughts are with the officers’ family at this very difficult time.
“We are currently investigating the circumstances of the death and would appeal to anyone who might be able to assist to contact Gwent Police by dialling 101.”
PC Helps worked for the neighbourhood response north team and had been a police officer for seven years.
His family released a statement saying:“We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Gwent Police, and especially the family liaison officers for their support.
Their consideration and sensitivity goes far and above the call of duty, Rowan would have been proud of you.
“While grateful for the support of family and friends we would ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time.”
Neighbours described seeing around ten fire engines, several police cars and ambulances rush to the scene at around 2pm. The area was cordoned off until 7.30pm.
One man, who did not wish to be named, said: “The emergency services arrived and the road was cordoned off.”
“We were told to keep our doors and windows shut because of fumes but were not evacuated.”
Another neighbour reported seeing a chemical incident unit outside PC Helps’ home.
“You do not expect something like this to happen here. There is never any trouble.”
“It’s usually so quiet here that you could hear a pin drop. The community is deeply shocked.”
Leaflets explaining PC Helps’ body had been found were posted through residents’ doors and reassured them there was no risk to the public.
Gwent Police said his family is being supported by family liaison officers.
A report is being prepared for the coroner.
A Gwent Police spokesman said: “The deceased officer was the subject of ongoing investigation and had been suspended from duty and was on police bail.
“As he was a serving officer under investigation a referral has been made to the IPCC.”
The IPCC confirmed it received a referral from Gwent Police following the death of a 32-year-old man.
A spokeswoman said: “The IPCC has requested further details from Gwent Police in order to fully assess the referral.
“Once the additionalmaterial has been received we will determine what level of involvement, if any, there needs to be from the IPCC in any investigation.”