Policeman wrongly arrests teen ‘for being terrorist’ and ‘internet freak’

A teenager who was attacked and arrested on suspicion of terrorism by a police inspector filmed the whole encounter.

Inspector Dean Gittoes, 49, was found guilty of assault at his trial in Cwmbran Magistrates' Court in South Wales yesterday (Wednesday, October 5) after he denied attacking the boy.

The footage of the attack, taken outside a police station on August 20 last year, shows the boy who, as a member of the "auditing" community, films public buildings and uploads the clips to YouTube, walking to the side of the police station before Gittoes confronts him.

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The police inspector asked what the teenager was doing, to which he responded: "Filming." When asked why, the boy replied: "Because I'm allowed."

Gittoes, however, was determined to get an answer and added: "I know you're allowed but I'm asking you why."

When the boy asked whether Gittoes is an inspector, he refused to identify himself, replying: "Never mind who I am. I'm asking you who you are. What's going on?"

The boy then reiterated that he was filming, to which Gittoes said: "I know, but we've had a few people filming here and we get a bit tired of it."

The officer demanded to know the boy's name, but the teenager refused, asking why the inspector needed to know.

Gittoes then marched up to the boy and declared: "Because I just asked you. I suspect you of being a terrorist… You're being arrested for terrorism."

The boy was heard wailing in pain as Gittoes assaulted him.

The court heard Gittoes grabbed the boy's arm as he marched him to the station, causing him to fall to the floor.

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He also pushed the teenager against a wall and grabbed the back of his hoodie, preventing the 16-year-old from breathing properly.

District Judge Sophie Toms said: "He was crying out in pain throughout the incident. This was a continued, unlawful assault against a vulnerable 16-year-old boy."

As Gittoes was arresting the teenager he took his mobile phone, not realising it was still recording as he told the boy: "You're a clever little internet freak who's about to learn the hard way."

The Crown Prosecution Service released the boy's video, in addition to CCTV footage, following Gittoes' conviction this week.

Judge Toms added that Gittoes had no reasonable grounds to arrest the boy under the Terrorism Act.

She said during the trial: "You gave no indication that you were a police officer and I agree with [the boy] that he didn't have to give his name at that stage.

"You marched towards him and you were clearly agitated. You took no more than 30 seconds to engage and ask questions before you laid hands to arrest him.

"It was a snapshot decision… You were unable to control yourself or your emotions, and there was only a fleeting mention of an arrest for terrorism, with no caution given.

"You used significant and in my view unnecessary force to control him and cause pain and discomfort when he had offered no resistance.

"You just wanted to teach him a lesson. You told him, 'You're a clever little internet freak who's about to learn the hard way.' And he did."

Gittoes has been released on bail ahead of his sentencing on October 27.

In the wake of the trial, the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog announced it would be "liaising" with South Wales Police on "potential disciplinary proceedings".

Chief Superintendent Mark Lenihan of the force's professional standards department said: “Now that the criminal trial has concluded the force can deal with misconduct matters.

"The incident was voluntarily referred by South Wales Police to the Independent Office for Police Conduct to ensure it received independent oversight."

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