A veteran police officer has officially retired after a career spanning 43 years of highs and lows, touching moments, and incidents which have left him battling post traumatic stress disorder.
Paul Evans' introduction to Myrtleford about halfway through his career was violent, traumatic, and almost claimed his life.
A fight with a highly agitated man inside his home ended with the offender and sergeant crashing through thick glass which sliced open the man's back, exposing his lungs.
The officer's actions, which included first aid instructions being radioed through, saved the man's life.
It was just one of the many confronting incidents Mr Evans encountered during his 43-year career, which he reflected on following his retirement on Tuesday.
"It was a passion from about the age of 13," he said of the attraction to the job.
"I just wanted to do the right thing, take the bullies out of society and make it a safer place."
Restrictions in place in his home state of South Australia at the time meant he was unable to join that police force, so Mr Evans made the journey to Victoria in 1978 as a teenager.
He joined the academy on June 26 of that year, graduated on November 10, and was met with wild scenes at Waverley Park during an alcohol-fuelled cricket match during one of his first jobs.
"It was 50,000 people at a day-night, drinking heavy beer from Eskies," he said.
"If you imagine a crowd like the gladiators, the Colosseum - it was pretty full on.
"It was during the World Series Cricket finals between Australia and the West Indies when 50,000 people were all wanting to fight each other."
About 20 police, he said, were at the ground in a bid to control the heaving crowd.
It was the start of a career that would see him working at various sites in Melbourne, a stint in Mildura, before eventually settling in Myrtleford in 1997.
It was just three weeks into his North East appointment that the violent incident unfolded and left Mr Evans and his family wondering if they'd made a mistake moving there.
"I was attacked by a guy who'd had a relationship breakdown with his ex," he explained.
"It was 3pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon and I was working one-up ... the last thing I expected was to be left fighting for my life.
"I got called to the job and heard someone screaming in the house.
"He attacked his ex then attacked me as I tried to stop him from taking his 14-month old baby which he was in no condition to take.
"I had to stop him getting my gun off me and we crashed through a plane glass door, which put a big wound through his back and exposed his lungs.
"He spent eight days in intensive care.
"That was my introduction to Myrtleford."
He believes if they'd fallen differently, he would have been the one critically injured and the other man in no state to provide assistance.
Mr Evans returned home to his wife at 9pm, covered in blood, while the other man "looked like an axe had hit him".
Given the small size of the town, his son and the offender's son shared the same class at school.
The other man's son told his show and tell at school on Monday that the police had tried to kill his dad.
The 14-month old baby later became Mr Evan's daughter's best friend.
The same man was involved in a siege in 2019 before apologising to the officer.
"If you live in a small town, you've got to walk past people in the street," he said.
"My rule is if you're fair to everyone, people will be fair right back to you.
"It's about mutual respect.
"I've raised five kids here in Myrtleford, people know how I deal with things."
IN OTHER NEWS
He began to suffer PTSD long before moving to the North East following an incident in Mildura.
A 10-year-old boy was run down while riding a new push bike he had received for his birthday.
After the impact the drunk disqualified driver took the boy 100 metres up the road and dumped his body outside his parents' home.
Mr Evans had to give evidence at trial, with his version cross examined over two days.
The case and trial, which led to the driver being jailed, still sticks with him 35 years on.
"I still get Christmas cards from that boy's mum," he said.
"You just want justice for their families, that's all you want."
The now retired officer has also been bitten during a more recent incident as a crook tried to grab an officer's gun at the Myrtleford station.
It was after that incident he knew his time was up.
His service in the region has also seen him respond to fires in 2003 and 2009, with the latter claiming the lives of his friends John and Sue Wilson.
"PTSD is like a finely balanced scale," Mr Evans said.
"Each time you go to something, it adds weight to one side and you've got to try to balance that."
Attending a meeting with a psychologist with other sufferers was an eye opener.
"The psychologist walked in and wrote symptoms on the white board in front of us," he said.
"We thought 'that's our life', I thought it was me and I'm not alone, I'm not the only one who suffers.
"Victoria Police members have suicided on a regular basis in the past.
"I don't know the numbers but there are people who leave the police force damaged."
The other men who took part in the meeting are now like brothers.
"It kept me in the police force and it kept me alive," he said.
"We were all a bit sceptical about going there at first.
"Talking about it is still the best way to deal with it."
While the work of police can lead down a dark path, other incidents help balance out the negativity.
The late 10-year-old boy's mother from the Mildura incident isn't the only person who keeps in touch out of gratitude for his his work.
The parents of two girls struck by a tree and saved by a bystander many years ago still send him cards to let him know how they're going.
Countless kindergarten and school groups have come through the town's station to get a glimpse of police work.
"They're the sort of things that keep you believing," Mr Evans said.
"It's been my life.
"I've loved it.
"I thank the community for their support over my time at Myrtleford.
"Without community support, policing is a hard job to do."
Mr Evans is moving to Wodonga for a change, feeling he will always been seen as a policeman in Myrtleford.
He will eventually look for another job to keep him busy, but is keen to spend more time with his grandchildren.
"It's my time, I know that it's my time," he said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: