Four-month detention sentence for 16-year-old who stabbed police dog Finn in Stevenage

PC Wardell with Finn outside Stevenage police station

PC Wardell with Finn outside Stevenage police station - Credit: Archant

A police officer has said he is “disappointed” a 16-year-old who stabbed his police dog and assaulted him has been sentenced to just four months in a detention centre, but feels lucky to be alive.

PC Dave Wardell after being reunited with PD Finn.

PC Dave Wardell after being reunited with PD Finn. - Credit: Archant

The youth from Lewisham, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of causing criminal damage by stabbing police dog Finn and assaulting PC Wardell at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on May 11.

The teenager had already pleaded guilty to possession of a 12-inch combat knife and an imitation firearm.

PD Finn and PC Wardell were both chasing the boy through a back garden in Denton Road, Stevenage, on October 5 last year, when he reared up wielding a 12-inch combat knife and stabbed the German shepherd through the chest before cutting the police officer’s hand.

PD Finn was in a bad way, with air leaking from his lungs – with parts of one lung subsequently removed.

Police dog Finn required emergency surgery after he was stabbed in Stevenage.

Police dog Finn required emergency surgery after he was stabbed in Stevenage. - Credit: Archant

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The eight-year-old underwent life-saving surgery and returned to work in December last year, before being retired in March.

After yesterday’s sentencing at Bromley Magistrate’s Court, the attacker was given a detention training order for eight months – four months in custody and four months in the community, a two-year behaviour order with conditions, £300 fine and a £30 victim surcharge.

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PC Wardell told the Comet: “The judge told him the offences were so serious that he had no choice but to impose a custodial sentence and you could say in this day and age we’re luck he got even go that.

“But I am disappointed. The maximum sentence for criminal damage is 10 years and we got nowhere near that.

“Can you say he’s going to learn his lesson in four months?”

The 41-year-old added: “But it’s my birthday today and I’m going to take the positives from it. If Finn hadn’t been there on that night, there’s no doubt in my mind you would be doing a story about a dead police officer.

“He saved my life and I’m just glad that he is still alive and I’m still here.”

After the stabbing, campaigners called on the Government to change the law so that harming service animals is not considered ‘criminal damage’, and enable harsher penalties to be imposed. The cause, named Finn’s Law, continues.

Hertfordshire Constabulary Chief Constable, Charlie Hall, said: “I am glad we can all now start the process of putting the distressing events of last October, where PC Dave Wardell and now retired Police Dog Finn were stabbed, behind us.

“Whilst thankfully they both made a fantastic recovery, where we saw Finn return to the frontline prior to his retirement, the seriousness of this incident should not be underestimated.

“It should serve as yet another reminder of the very real dangers frontline officers and police dogs face every day. It should also send out a strong message to those who might consider carrying knives – we do not tolerate knife crime in Hertfordshire.

“I am extremely grateful to Dave and Finn as well as the other officers and staff who successfully brought the perpetrator to justice.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to the public: their support from around the county, country and further afield has been overwhelming.”

PC Wardell – who spent his birthday at work patrolling the three counties with his new police dog Hero Diesel, named after the police dog who was killed during the Paris terror attacks – said: “I wish them luck with the campaign. It would be a nice legacy for Finn to show that this hasn’t all happened for nothing.”

Finn is now enjoying his retirement at home with the Wardell family and the police officer will release a book about his story, called Fabulous Finn, later this year.

A newly-born guide puppy will also be named Finn in his honour.

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