Tyne & Wear

Albert Dryden's victim Harry Collinson's plaque moved

A plaque dedicated to a council officer shot dead during a planning row is being moved on the 20th anniversary of his death.

Harry Collinson, Derwentside Council's chief planning officer, was killed by Albert Dryden while serving an enforcement order.

A police officer and a BBC TV reporter were also shot and seriously injured.

BBC cameraman Phil Dobson said: "Everybody thought it [the gun] was for effect. And then he fired".

The plaque to Harry Collinson is being moved from Consett Civic Centre to Durham County Hall, near to the county council's dedication to officers killed in World War I and II.

The shooting took place on 20 June 1991 in Butsfield, County Durham, near the bungalow Dryden had built without permission.

A digger was on standby to demolish it when Dryden opened fire with a revolver and shot Mr Collinson.

He shot Mr Collinson again and then carried on firing, hitting BBC TV reporter Tony Belmont and police officer Stephen Campbell.

David Blackie, a sergeant with Durham police at the time, arrived at the scene shortly afterwards.

He said: "There were four or five policemen there. I think largely engaged in directing traffic from the press, who were there in force. There were more press people than there were policemen.

"It took everyone by surprise. When I got there everybody was pretty well in shock.

"Nobody actually had the presence of mind to find out whether Harry Collinson was still alive so I did that and ascertained he wasn't."

Albert Dryden, now 71, was sentenced to life imprisonment and told he must spend at least 13 years in prison.

That tariff expired in March 2004 but he has repeatedly been refused parole on the grounds that he has shown little genuine remorse.

He was recently moved from Haverigg Prison in Cumbria to Acklington Prison in Northumberland.

Harry Collinson's brother Roy said: "That's where he belongs. As far as I'm concerned he stays there until the day he dies."

'Etched in memory'

Phil Dobson has been less traumatised by the shooting than some of his colleagues, something he attributes to watching through his camera lens, as if through "someone else's eyes".

He said: "I was actually straddled across a drainage ditch so I could get a shot of the two people talking.

"Mr Collinson just looked at the camera and said you might want to get a shot of this and when I panned round there was Mr Dryden pointing a gun.

"I think everybody at the time just assumed that, you know, he was a little eccentric, although nobody really thought he was particularly dangerous.

"He was wearing a holster, a western-style holster with it. And then he fired."

Alex Watson, who was leader of Derwentside District Council at the time of the shooting, hopes councillors will still remember Harry Collinson.

He said: "Harry was really well respected and totally dedicated to the protection of the countryside. Harry wasn't for turning. He was the champion of the environment."

The chairman of Durham County Council, Councillor Dennis Morgan, said: "It was a day that rocked the very fabric of local government and will be etched in many people's memories for all time.

"It is entirely fitting that Harry's memorial plaque be located next to our dedication to officers killed during the first and second wars."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites