Pensioner awarded £5k after police officer left her bruised and ‘terrified’ amid dog-walking dispute

A jury found an off-duty police officer made an unnecessary arrest following an incident in Pegswood, Northumberland

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A pensioner left bruised and “terrified” by an off-duty police officer while walking her dogs says she finally has justice after an almost five-year “ordeal”.

Northumbria Police has agreed to pay £5,000 in compensation to Jean Mitchell, 76, over an arrest which saw her spend eight hours in police cells and has now been ruled unlawful by a civil court.

In July 2016, then-71-year-old Jean was walking her two dogs in woodlands near her home in Pegswood, Northumberland.

She became involved in a dispute with another dog walker, when she said the other woman’s dogs, who she claimed were “out of control”, began to jump up at Jean and her Bedlington Terrier.

The dispute ended when the other woman, who Jean says she had “no idea” was a police officer, put her under arrest, alleging she had thrown two objects which had hit her back.

Jean, who at the time was still taking medication following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, claimed the “vice-like grip” used by the officer in the arrest caused her huge pain under her arms, in an area that was still sensitive after surgery, and left her arms bruised.

Accused of assault, Jean was hauled to court, where the officer claimed Jean had thrown stones at her.

But the pensioner, who was a regular volunteer at Pegswood Community Woods before the incident, was found not guilty after a trial at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court.

Jean said:

“It was an absolute nightmare what happened and I’m still suffering with it. I feel as if I’ve been let down by the police and I feel frightened to ask the police for help.

“I volunteer to help in the woods, which I love doing, but now I’m really wary of doing it because of what happened there, I don’t know who will be out in the woods.

“When she said ‘right, you’re under arrest’ I just couldn’t believe it, I didn’t even know she was a police officer. She put me in a vice-like grip and I felt this terrible pain. I was screaming my head off, screaming for help, because I was terrified.”

Now, almost five years later, police have agreed to compensate Jean after a civil damages claim heard in March at Newcastle County Court.

 

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