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#AceNewsRoom With ‘Kindness & Wisdom’ Oct.05, 2022 @acenewsservices
#AceNewsDesk – Police inspector Dean Gittoes guilty of assault on teen: Dean Gittoes, 49, had denied a charge of assault by beating but he was convicted at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court.
The court was shown footage filmed by the teenager outside Merthyr Tydfil police station in August 2021: District Judge Sophie Toms said the inspector had “lost all rational thought” after seeing the boy filming: In the footage, the teenager can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” and “he’s choking me” after being taken into the custody suite.
The incident was captured on a now-deleted YouTube video that was recorded by the youth, who claimed at the time to be “auditing” the station, but he was arrested by Insp Gittoes who said he could be a terrorist.
The term auditing refers to a global online community of people who record and upload videos of government buildings, such as police stations.
‘Learn the hard way’
Footage played in court showed Insp Gittoes in a Swansea City football club shirt and black shorts confronting the teenager, before being heard saying “I am asking you who you are, what’s your name” before saying he may be a terrorist.
In the recording the teenager is heard telling the officer he is entitled to film in public places and does not need to give his name.
Insp Gittoes was also recorded saying “I’m sick of people filming us”.
The footage shows him grabbing the boy’s phone, putting him into an arm lock and leading him into the custody suite.
The boy can be heard shouting “he’s choking me”, while Insp Gittoes is heard telling him to “stop struggling”, adding: “You’re a clever little internet freak who’s about to learn the hard way.”
The case was heard at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court
Prosecutors said the arrest was “unlawful”, claiming Insp Gittoes, who was off-duty at the time, did not honestly believe the youth was committing a terrorism offence.
Instead, they claimed, Insp Gittoes allowed his judgment to be “clouded” by his dislike of auditors and his ongoing frustration with his bosses over how a similar incident had been handled.
Christopher Rees, defending, said the officer genuinely believed the boy to be involved in a hostile reconnaissance of the building and that any footage uploaded to the internet could have assisted terrorists.
The court heard how guidance issued by South Wales Police and seen by Insp Gittoes, after similar incidents across the force area, advised officers that members of the public have a general right to film government buildings on public property.
It also said that if a person identifies themselves as an auditor, to ignore them.
‘Grabbed his hoodie’
District Judge Sophie Toms told Insp Gittoes that it was “not a calm exchange” when he approached the boy “as he tried to respond, you grabbed him forcibly and told him he was under arrest for terrorism”.
As he was taken inside the police station, the district judge said the boy who was passively resisting had “his wrists twisted, he was pushed into the wall, you grabbed his hoodie and twisted it, he said ‘I can’t breathe'”.
She said “unnecessary force was used against him” and said that what Insp Gittoes did were “not the actions of an officer who reasonably believed these were terrorism offences”.
She said he had been frustrated by what he saw as the inaction of senior officers after previous filming outside the police station, and said he was “so wound up” that he “lost all rational thought”.
“You marched towards him, clearly agitated, and you made a snap shot decision and you were unable to control yourself and your emotions.
“He was just 16 and no threat to you or others, he was crying out and you continued your unlawful assault against a vulnerable 16-year-old.”
The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said its investigation found the force used in “manhandling a 16-year-old boy, who was offering no physical resistance, was excessive and went beyond what was necessary”.
Catrin Evans, director for Wales, said its investigation found Insp Gittoes had a case to answer for gross misconduct for alleged breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour in respect of abuse of authority, and use of force.
She said the IOPC would be talking to South Wales Police about next steps regarding any potential disciplinary proceedings.
Insp Gittoes is due to be sentenced on 27 October at Newport Magistrates’ Court.
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