A police inspector who used “substantial” force to restrain a vulnerable 16-year-old boy filming in public near a police station for a YouTube audit channel has been found guilty of assault.
Within 30 seconds of meeting the teenager outside Merthyr Tydfil police station in South Wales, Insp Dean Gittoes used force, twisting his wrist, forcing him to fall and holding him by the bonnet, making it difficult for the boy to breathe.
The boy, who did not resist and cried in pain throughout being restrained, was arrested by South Wales Police Gittoes on suspicion of offenses under the Terrorism Act and jailed for seven hours before being released without charge.
Gittoes, 49, was convicted after a three-day trial in Cwmbran. The Independent Policing Authority (IOPC) has concluded that it is difficult to hold the misconduct accountable.
The court found out that the boy was “auditing” at the police station last August 20. Auditing refers to the online community of people who record and upload videos of public buildings.
Gittoes, who was off work at the time and had gone to the station to get a cell phone, asked the boy, “I’m asking who you are, what’s your name?” When the boy refused to reveal his details, the inspector detained him and told him: “You’re a smart little internet freak who’s going to study hard.”
He told his colleagues that he had dealt with a similar case six weeks ago, but his superiors thought it was a joke.
Although the Gittoes did not arrest the previous “auditor”, a video of their interaction was uploaded to the Internet, garnering thousands of views and comments.
He told colleagues: “Whoever I catch now, I’m not going to give them a second chance. I’ve got 36,000 people on the internet calling me bullshit. I thought, screw him this time. I’m going to do what I should have done last time. “
In sentencing Gittoes, District Judge Sophie Toms said “substantial and unnecessary force” had been used. He said: “You grabbed him by the arm, you used force against him, you marched him into the station, you twisted his wrist causing him to fall to the floor, you pushed him against the wall, you grabbed him by the back of his hood, preventing him from breathing properly. He was crying in pain. This was an ongoing unlawful assault against a vulnerable 16-year-old boy.
Gittoes will be sentenced on October 27.