Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Five-Figure Payout for Bite Victim; Four Years on, Victim Vindicated in Court

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Five-Figure Payout for Bite Victim; Four Years on, Victim Vindicated in Court

Article excerpt

AN innocent man who was wrongly savaged by a police dog has won thousands of pounds in compensation.

Bill Gatenby needed 20 stitches in his arm and back when the animal launched at him outside the Bird Inn Pub, in Washginton.

But instead of being taken to hospital, the 59-year-old was arrested for allegedly being drunk and disorderly and locked up in a cell for more than six hours, with only a dressing on the deep bite wound on his arm.

Police staff were then caught on CCTV laughing and joking about his injuries.

The grandad-of-six was charged with the offence, but cleared months later at a trial at Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

Mr Gatenby, of Washington, then 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.

However, a couple of weeks before the hearing 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.

Mr Gatenby, who lives with his wife Jane, said the whole ordeal had been one long nightmare for him and his family. Speaking exclusively to the Chronicle, he said: "It's been awful for both myself and my family. "It's been an awful few years, and the stress of it has really taken its toll on everyone. We're just so relieved it's all over and we have an apology and an admission they were in the wrong."

Mr Gatenby had gone out for a couple of pints in Washington with his brother at about 5pm on Boxing Day 2006.

"He started making his way home less than three hours later as he had to be at work at 6am the following morning.

"I was passing the Bird Inn, " said Mr Gatenby. "I saw my grandson, who was 13 at the time and on his bike with some mates, and stopped to talk.

"While we were talking, some sort of commotion started going on outside of the pub.

"Like anyone, I was a bit nosey and got closer to have a look. I started talking to a mate of mine. Next thing I knew, I was being hauled to the ground. I didn't know who by or why at first.

"I felt a sharp pain in my arm and back. It was only when I turned round I saw it was an officer and his dog. I got up, a bit dazed, and walked away at first. Then I wanted the officer's name as I'd just been bitten, so I walked back. It was then he arrested me for being drunk and disorderly. I honestly couldn't believe it.

"I hadn't even known he was there. If the officer had tapped me on the shoulder, I would have moved. I wasn't involved in the commotion."

Mr Gatenby was taken to Washington Police Station where he was checked over by a doctor and had a dressing put on his arm.

"He told me it wouldn't need hospital treatment," said Mr Gatenby. …

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