Bill Gatenby needed 20 stitches in his arm and back when the animal leaped at him while outside the Bird Inn pub, in Washington, as he innocently watched a fight roll on to the street.
At the time, he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, although he was later cleared during a trial after it emerged he was simply an innocent bystander.Now, while it’s unwise to watch a fight that requires the attention of police to break it up, the penalty shouldn’t be arrest and a savaging, should it?
An officer originally claimed the 59-year-old had “gone at him”, which led the dog to bite and bring Mr Gatenby to the ground.
But it was only thanks to CCTV footage of the attack, which the police lost, that the real facts were shown.Which the police ‘lost’, eh? How fortuitous…
The grandad-of-six, who lives with his wife Jane in Washington, said he can’t thank the landlord enough for coming forward with it. He said: “After I was arrested and the case had gone to the first appearance at court, it was originally said that there was no CCTV in the area at the time.
“I was just thinking, it’s going to be a case of my word against the police. I really wasn’t hopeful anyone would believe me. ”Sadly, that’s no longer as true as it once was. We are far, far from the days when a policeman’s word was sufficient.
Now, it’s a case of ‘Trust, but verify’:
“Then the landlord of the pub got in touch with me and said he thought I needed to see the CCTV he had.
“He saw on the CCTV that I had done nothing wrong. “He gave me a copy of it and I gave it to my solicitor.
“The landlord said he had given a copy to the police but they said they’d lost it. “It was clear to most that there wasn’t a case against me once the CCTV had been seen. The magistrates agreed.
“I’m just so thankful to the landlord for contacting me and telling me about it. I don’t know what would have happened otherwise.”Oh, I think I do. You’d have been convicted.
So, what does Northumbria Police Farce have to say for itself, and it’s officers?
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “A number of his concerns were found to be unsubstantiated.”So what? Not the crucial one, which is that your officers lied to the custody officer about the incident!
“However, we accept CCTV footage was misplaced and appropriate action was taken at the time.
“It was established Mr Gatenby had been accidentally bitten by a police dog.”That’s an unfortunate happenstance. It’s not unusual, and though it’s a bad thing to happen, it’s what you do about it when it happens that is crucial.
Lying about it and hiding the evidence is criminal behaviour, is it not?
So…what ‘appropriate action’ was taken over these police officers? Were they dismissed? They certainly should have been!
After his trial, in November 2008, Mr Gatenby launched legal action against the police for his injuries and the stress he endured, yet it was not until nearly four years later that a court date was set at Newcastle’s County Court.
But a couple of weeks before the date, in July this year, an out-of-court settlement was reached and the Asda worker was awarded a five-figure payout and a personal, written apology from Chief Supt David Pryer.If they hoped the out-of-court settlement would prevent any publicity, they clearly had their hopes dashed…
But it was the behaviour of the arresting officers that also disgusted Mr Gatenby. CCTV captured the immediate aftermath of Bill Gatenby’s arrest in Washington Police Station custody suite.
The officers can be heard laughing and joking and branding the attack “decent”. One of them even says “He’ll (the dog) not need feeding today”.
The dog handler in charge of the animal at the time of the attack, can be heard claiming Mr Gatenby had “just turned on us and, like, took a step forward and the dog has just gone for him” .
This was clearly not the case from CCTV footage taken from outside the pub, which shows Mr Gatenby never turned around and didn't seem to realise the officer was there.So…what happened to those officers? Are they still walking a beat somewhere? Are they lying about any future arrests they may make?
Since they aren't named, who can have any confidence that they aren't being dealt with by them?