Mum of Hitchin teen left with ‘at least seven bites’ after police dog attack makes official complaint

The bite marks to Ronan Pearson-Smith's leg.

The bite marks to Ronan Pearson-Smith's leg. - Credit: Archant

The mum of an 18-year-old Hitchin youth who was cornered after a police dog and helicopter pursuit has lodged an official complaint about her son’s treatment.

Police dog Blue

Police dog Blue - Credit: Archant

Nicola Pearson-Smith says her son Ronan, who she describes as being on the autistic spectrum, needed medical treatment for ‘at least seven bites’ after being taken into custody on the edge of town.

Ronan was arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with an alleged assault in Market Place but has since been released without charge.

German shepherd dog Blue, together with his trained handler, was called in along with the police helicopter to search for suspects who had fled from the scene in the early hours of Friday morning.

Blue eventually cornered Ronan on the Westmill housing estate near his home.

Bite marks on Ronan's arm.

Bite marks on Ronan's arm. - Credit: Archant

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Nicola told the Comet: “My son’s on the autistic spectrum, with ADHD, behavioural problems, and has trouble processing instructions quickly. He’s also terrified of dogs so he ran away.

“The police dog caught up with him. The officer shouted to him: ‘Stand still.’

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“Ronan stood still but the dog leapt on him. He was terrified and was screaming: ‘Get it off me’ – but the dog bit him at least seven times, mauling him, leaving puncture wounds on his left thigh and calf.

“He was terrified, he was crying and calling for me as he was so scared.

“My son’s innocent. I’m appalled, so I made a complaint.”

A police spokesman said: “We have video of the incident that we are currently reviewing which will assist us when investigating.

“Our handlers and dogs are highly-trained, and adhere to strict national guidelines that govern the safe use of police dogs during incidents, which can often be demanding and fast-moving.

“At regular intervals both the handlers and dogs must reapply to be licensed as police dog units, which is necessary for the handler and dog to work. They also attend regular refresher training to ensure they are operating appropriately.”

Two 17 year-old boys who were also arrested following the alleged assault have been released on police bail until Sunday, August 30.

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