Moment shamed police inspector, 49, confronts teenage boy before ‘throttling’ him because he was ‘sick of internet freaks’ is revealed – as the officer is convicted of assault
- Police inspector Dean Gittoes found guilty of assaulting 16-year-old boy
- He arrested the boy on suspicion of being a ‘terrorist’ for filming police station
- The boy accused Gittoes of ‘being aggressive and, at one point, choking him’
- Footage shows the moment Gittoes grabbed boy by the arm and dragged him
The moment a police inspector confronted a teenage boy and dragged him through a car park into the station was captured on CCTV and played in court at his assault trial.
Dean Gittoes wrongly arrested the teenager, who cannot be named because he is only 16, on suspicion of being a ‘terrorist’ for using his phone to video his police station.
The 49-year-old, of Oak Tree Rise, Merthyr Tydfil, ‘lost all rational thought’ when he ‘unlawfully’ detained the boy on August 20, 2021.
He was found guilty in the Magistrates Court at Cwmbran, Gwent, of assault after a combination of CCTV and the boy’s phone footage was submitted as evidence.
The court heard Gittoes was ‘sick of internet freaks’ and ‘wrongly used the Terrorism Act’ to justify arresting the teenager, who identified himself as an ‘auditor’ when approached.
The term auditing refers to a global online community of people who record and upload videos of government buildings, such as police stations.
Prosecutor Jason Howells said the arrest was ‘unlawful’, claiming Gittoes, who was off-duty at the time and did not declare himself properly as an officer, did not honestly believe the youth was committing a terrorism offence.
Instead, they claimed, 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.
‘The officer had acted as he did because he had had a bad weekend and he was annoyed about what had happened weeks before – saying he was fed up of those internet freaks filming and putting things on the internet’.
The boy accused Gittoes of ‘being aggressive and, at one point, choking him’.
Christopher Rees, defending, said the veteran officer had genuinely believed the boy to be involved in a hostile reconnaissance of the building and that any footage he uploaded to the internet could have assisted terrorists.
Gittoes will face a disciplinary hearing and is expected to be dismissed after his conviction
Footage played to Gwent Magistrates’ Court showed Gittoes in a Swansea City club shirt and black shorts confronting the teenager seconds before grabbing his phone, putting him into an arm lock and leading him into the custody suite.
The youth cried of pain and said ‘he’s choking me’, while Gittoes’ told him to ‘stop struggling’, adding: ‘You’re a clever little internet freak who’s about to learn the hard way.’
Convicting Gittoes, District Judge Sophie Toms called the incident a ‘continued unlawful assault against a vulnerable 16-year-old boy’.
Judge Toms said: ‘What is absolutely apparent is that you were frustrated with nothing being done to stop the filming of the police station, that senior officers were not taking it seriously and were not supportive.
‘Your view was that it was a dangerous situation as videos could be used by terrorists, but I haven’t seen any evidence to that affect.’
She said the boy’s phone was still recording from Gittoes’ pocket when he told his colleague he’d ‘dealt with someone like this’ six weeks earlier.
‘Anyone I catch now I don’t give them a second chance. I’ve got 36,000 people on the internet calling me a s***. I thought f*** him this time. I’ll do what I should’ve done last time,’ he said, according to the recording.
In a police interview played to the court, the teenager said he was part of a worldwide ‘auditing’ group filming officers and how they interacted with the public.
He said he had gone to the station after a friend from the auditing community told him he had filmed Gittoes about a month earlier.
In the footage from the teenager’s phone, Gittoes is seen and heard saying: ‘I am asking you who you are, what’s your name’ before suggesting he may be a terrorist.
The boy replied: ‘You suspect me of being a terrorist?’
The video then went black but the audio recording continues.
CCTV showing Gittoes holding the 16-year-old’s arm, marching him into the police station and later arresting him was also played to the court.
He appears to pull the teenager’s collar and the teenager told police that ‘it felt like he was tugging on my hood, that’s why I said I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’.
The experienced officer Gittoes, of Merthyr Tydfil, denied assault.
The boy was flung to the ground before being picked up again and taken into custody on suspicion of being a ‘terrorist’ – because he was filming the exterior of the police station
But Judge Toms said any reasonable officer ‘in possession of the same facts’ would not have assumed the boy was a terrorism suspect or a threat to anyone.
‘This was just a 16-year-old filming for his YouTube channel and was no threat to you or others,’ she said.
‘But you were so riled up by the lack of action taken by your bosses you lost all rational thought.’
‘You were clearly agitated and took no more than 30 seconds before you laid your hands on him.
‘It was a snapshot decision, and it was evident you were unable to control yourself or your actions. Significant unnecessary force was then used against this boy when he was offering no resistance.
‘You grabbed his arm, used force against him, marching him into the station, twisting his wrist, causing him to fall to the floor, pushing him against the wall, grabbing the back of his hoodie preventing him breathing properly.
‘He was crying out in pain throughout the incident. This was a continued, unlawful assault against a vulnerable 16-year-old boy.’
The court heard how Gittoes had not identified himself as a police officer, explained fully to the youth the reasons why he was being detained, nor did he caution him.
The inspector also left the station before completing a statement and had to be called back by senior colleagues to do one.
In spite of this, Gittoes maintained throughout the trial that he stood by his handling of the situation. He said he used the ‘straight arm bar technique’ to restrain the teenager.
CCTV showing Gittoes holding the 16-year-old’s arm, marching him into the police station and later arresting him was also played to the court
He appears to pull the teenager’s collar and the teenager told police that ‘it felt like he was tugging on my hood, that’s why I said I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’
The court heard guidance issued by South Wales Police and seen by Gittoes after similar incidents across the force advised officers that members of the public have a general right to film government buildings on public property and that it does not constitute a terrorist offence to do so.
It also said that if a person identifies themselves as an auditor, to ignore them.
However, Gittoes told the court: ‘I felt we should not be ignoring people on the basis of them calling themselves auditors if there’s a clear threat there.’
Judge Toms granted bail and adjourned sentencing until 27 October after a three-day hearing at Cwmbran magistrates.
Gittoes will face a disciplinary hearing and is expected to be dismissed after his conviction.
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