Police dog may have become frustrated, OAP’s inquest told

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A police dog which repeatedly bit a frail pensioner may have become frustrated after it spotted an officer on the roof while it searched for a suspect, an inquest into the grandmother’s death has heard.

Police dog Dano attacked Irene Collins, 73, in her kitchen after he had carried out a sweep of her garden as part of a major operation to find an escaped drug dealer.

Mrs Collins, who had terminal lung cancer and emphysema, was bitten on the arm, leg and breast and required emergency surgery for a broken arm and skin grafts.

She died in hospital four days after the attack in July 2014, her inquest at Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard.

Jurors have heard police asked Mrs Collins permission to search her garden in Penrith Road, Middlesbrough, and Pc Andrew Jobling was stood on an outhouse roof when handler Pc Mark Baines and Dano conducted a search.

Her son Eric Collins said he spoke to her mother in hospital where she told him what happened.

He told the jury: “She said a dog came into the kitchen, she stood still expecting the dog to stay until the handler came in but the next thing she was pulled down and banged her head on the kitchen unit.

“She kept saying numerous times the dog was out of control.”

Chief Inspector Annie Reavley, of Nottinghamshire Police – who carried out an official review of what happened, watched police helicopter footage of the dog conducting a search.

The seven-stone German Shepherd at one point barked at Pc Jobling on the roof and then moved to the side of the house and, unknown to his handler, got into the property.

Ms Reavley said the dog could have believed it had partly achieved its task of finding the suspect when it spotted the officer on the building.

She said Pc Baines could then have recalled and “re-tasked” the dog to set it to look again for the real suspect.

“The only assumption we can come up with is the dog has located Pc Jobling and the dog has then at that point become frustrated,” she said.

“In its own mind, [the dog may have thought] ‘there’s my subject, the job is get the guy off the roof and detain them’.”

She said the officer being on the roof could have been a “catalyst” to what then happened inside.

The dog unit chief assumed a handler would have experienced “panic” when he saw his dog had gone in the home and repeatedly attacked the householder.

The inquest has heard the handler had seen the back door was shut when he entered these garden.

Ms Reavley said Dano was “clearly out of control” when he backed out of his chain and escaped from his handler to bite Mrs Collins for a third time, after being dragged into the hallway by Pc Baines.

Earlier, pathologist Dr Mark Egan said Mrs Collins may have only had weeks to live when the incident happened.

But he was sure she only died on the day she did because she had been bitten.

Her surgery was initially thought to be successful, but she died after developing pneumonia in hospital.

The inquest has previously heard when Cleveland Police acquired the dog for £500 from Thames Valley and Hampshire Police, it was unaware he had a history of biting 10 people on his record.

Dano was put down after the incident.

The inquest, which started on Monday, continues.

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