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(Updated 04/03/01)

Police dog accused of being 'a danger' to the public


IN JUST four years of active service, a police dog in Middlesbrough put the bite into 54 people during the course of his duties. But Bosco the GSD was far from discerning in his choice of target - four of his victims were police officers.

But the six year-old dog’s future is in doubt after a telephone engineer bitten by the dog was awarded £16,500 damages.

During the court hearing, it emerged that no fewer than nine other people are in the process of suing Cleveland Police in Middlesbrough, claiming they were victims of “The Best of Boro”.

Laurie Agar, 36, sued after he was left with gaping wounds in his leg, inflicted by Bosco, following his arrest on Boxing Day 1997.

Father-of-three Mr Agar was leaving a pub arm-in-arm with his girlfriend Maxine Pursey when police officers arrived to deal with a disturbance. When Mr Agar asked dog handler PC Mark Robson what was going on, the officer let Bosco off his leash and the dog promptly bit Mr Agar on his right leg.

The court heard that as police officers forced Mr Agar to the ground, Bosco continued to bite him in “a feeding frenzy”, leaving Mr Agar with six gaping wounds.

A jury at Teeside County Court was told that police staged a cover-up to protect Bosco and his handler. Mr Agar was charged with assault but cleared by magistrates. He then sued the force for wrongful arrest, assault and battery and malicious prosecution.

Miss Pursey, a teetotaller who was also arrested for being “drunk and disorderly” claimed that she had been falsely imprisoned. She was awarded £1,250 damages. Both she and Mr Agar were awarded their legal costs estimated at £25,000.

The couple’s solicitor Scott Taylor said that his firm had 10 cases pending against arrests involving Bosco, who was recognisable by his fluffy face.
The alleged victims range from a 15 year old boy who needed 10 stitches after being cornered in an alleyway, to a man who required 80 stitches after being mauled.

Mr Taylor claimed that the worst case involved a man whose calf was “literally eaten” by Bosco.

Mr Agar said after the court hearing, “I feel Bosco should be taken off the streets, because clearly he is a danger. I don’t actually blame the dog, it is down to police training and the handler.”

A spokesman for Cleveland Police said: “The police dog was deployed to a public order incident quite correctly.
“We are disappointed but accept the decision made today. PC Robson was faced with a very difficult and aggressive crowd on the night and felt that his personal safety and the safety of the other officers at the scene was at risk.”