Inspector, 49, 'throttled' boy, 16, because he filmed police station
Shamed inspector, 49, who ‘throttled’ a 16-year-old boy and called him a ‘clever little internet freak’ because he was filming a police station is sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work – and faces losing his job
- Dean Gittoes, 49, of Merthyr Tydfil, ‘unlawfully’ detained the boy last August
- In footage, ‘He’s choking me’ was heard as Gittoes twisted the neck of his hoodie
- The boy was ‘auditing’ but Insp Gittoes told him he thought he was a terrorist
- The incident was captured on a now-deleted YouTube video recorded by the boy
A shamed inspector who ‘throttled’ a teenage boy and called him a ‘clever little internet freak’ because he was filming a police station, faces losing his job.
Inspector Dean Gittoes, 49, was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work after ‘unlawfully’ detaining the 16-year-old outside Merthyr Tydfil police station on August 20 last year.
The incident was captured on a now-deleted YouTube video that was recorded by the teenager, who claimed at the time to be ‘auditing’ the station in South Wales – a term that refers to a global online community of people who record and upload videos of government buildings.
In footage from the teenage boy’s phone, his distressed cries of pain and ‘He’s choking me’ can be heard as Gittoes twists the neck of his hoodie, while the officer is heard telling him to ‘Stop struggling’.
At a hearing at Newport Magistrates’ Court, Gittoes, of Oak Tree Rise, Merthyr Tydfil, was given a 12-month community order to complete 200 hours of unpaid work within a year after being found guilty of assault by beating.
Inspector Dean Gittoes (pictured), 49, ‘unlawfully’ detained the 16-year-old outside Merthyr Tydfil police station on August 20 last year
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’
He was also ordered to pay costs totalling £1275, which includes £250 compensation for the victim.
Footage played to the court showed Gittoes, wearing a Swansea City football club shirt and black shorts, confronting the teenager seconds before grabbing the boy’s phone, putting him into an arm lock and leading him into the custody suite.
Inside the custody suite he tells the boy: ‘You’re a clever little internet freak who’s about to learn the hard way.’
He confiscated the teenager’s phone which, without his knowledge, continued to record in his pocket.
In the phone footage, Gittoes is seen and heard saying: ‘I am asking you who you are, what’s your name’ before saying he may be a terrorist.
The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, replied: ‘You suspect me of being a terrorist?’
Gittoes then asks ‘what are you doing?’ before the teenager replies: ‘I am filming.’
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.
At a hearing at Newport Magistrates’ Court, Gittoes, of Oak Tree Rise, Merthyr Tydfil, was given a 12-month community order to complete 200 hours of unpaid work within a year
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
The court heard the inspector stood by his handling of the situation, saying he assessed the situation according to guidance and used the ‘straight arm bar technique’ to restrain the teenager.
The teenager told police Gittoes was ‘aggressive’, ‘pushed him’ and, at one point, was ‘choking him’.
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’.
Sentencing him, District Judge Sophie Toms said: ‘You assaulted a 16-year-old vulnerable boy who was filming for his YouTube channel.
‘There was no justification for approaching him the way you did, no justification for putting your hands on him, and no justification for arresting him.
‘It was a continued unlawful assault.’
Judge Toms said the offence was aggravated by the fact that it was an abuse of power and that Gittoes degraded the teenager by calling him a ‘clever little internet freak’.
‘I, however, take into account the mitigation which is that you were of positive good character and that this was out of character for you, a one-off,’ she added.
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
Gittoes’ defence barrister Christopher Rees had appealed to the court to grant a community order, and said: ‘It remains the situation that the defendant, as a result of his conviction, will lose his job as a police officer.
‘Twenty-four years of public service. That is a significant punishment in its own right.
‘This is a personal tragedy for Mr Gittoes, who is not only losing his career but also his good character.’
Gittoes’s exchanges with colleagues can be heard in the videos, with him saying: ‘Six weeks ago I dealt with someone like this and the bosses so far think it’s a joke.
‘Anyone I catch now, I don’t give them a second chance.
‘I’ve got 36,000 people on the internet calling me a shit.
‘I thought ‘F*** him’ this time. I’ll do what I should’ve done last time.’
He also spoke about having had a bad weekend before calling the youth ‘a clown’.
During his trial, it was found that Gittoes, who was off duty at the time, did not honestly believe the teenager was committing a terrorism offence.
CCTV shows Gittoes dragging the teenage boy into his police station in August 2021
Gittoes was said to have ‘lost all rational thought’ and allowed his judgement to be ‘clouded’ by his dislike of auditors and his ongoing frustration with his bosses over how a similar incident had been handled.
Guidance issued by South Wales Police and seen by 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 they should be ignored.
Gittoes was found guilty of assault on October 5 when Judge Toms concluded: ‘No reasonable person in possession of the same facts would have suspected the youth of terrorism.’
Independent Office for Police Conduct director for Wales Catrin Evans said: ‘While there are occasions when the use of force is required, police officers are entrusted with the power to do so only if it is necessary, reasonable, and proportionate in the circumstances.’
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