Beds, Herts & Bucks

Police dog Finn stabbing: Boy, 16, found guilty

Police dog Finn and handler PC Dave Wardell Image copyright Hertfordshire Police
Image caption The seriously injured dog underwent four hours of emergency surgery and handler PC Dave Wardell was treated in hospital

A teenage boy has been found guilty of stabbing a police dog and wounding his handler during a chase.

PC Dave Wardell and his German shepherd Finn were attacked in Stevenage in October while responding to an earlier report of a robbery.

The 16-year-old from London, who cannot be named because of his age, was found guilty of actual bodily harm against PC Wardell and criminal damage in relation to PD Finn.

He will be sentenced next month.

PC Wardell and Finn were attacked in the early hours of 5 October in Denton Road in the Hertfordshire town.

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The seven-year-old dog, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire dog unit, was stabbed with a 30cm (12in) hunting knife in the head and chest and underwent four hours of emergency surgery to save his life.

Image copyright BCH Police Dogs
Image caption German shepherd Finn was stabbed in the head and chest after pursuing a suspect

Magistrates at Stevenage Youth Court heard the blade narrowly missed the police dog's heart.

The officer's hand was stabbed and he was treated in hospital and released.

A teenager from Lewisham, south-east London, was arrested and charged the following day.

At an earlier hearing he admitted possession of a knife and an imitation firearm but denied attacking Finn and PC Wardell.

Appearing at his one-day trial with his mother, the boy told magistrates he was acting in self-defence, fearing for his safety and being "bitten up" by the dog.

Image copyright PC Dave Wardell
Image caption Finn returned to work in December and retired from the force at the end of March

PC Wardell broke down in court as he described the attack, and "the largest knife" he had ever seen.

"I was in fear of my life, and in fear of Finn dying in front of me," he said.

"Finn is one of the highest trained dogs in the police force, I wished neither Finn nor myself were in that garden, but we were."

District Judge Jo Matson told the defendant she found his evidence "not credible or truthful".

"Stabbing a dog you know to be a police dog and lunging a knife at a police officer were not necessary or proportionate," she said.

The teenager is expected to be sentenced at court in Bromley, south London, on 6 June.

PC Wardell and Finn have now recovered from their injuries, and returned to work together just before Christmas.

PD Finn, now aged eight, retired from active duty at the end of March.

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