Police officers who beat injured deer to death with a crowbar will keep their jobs

Officers had told the panel their actions had been 'in the best interests' of the deer and they had 'gained no satisfaction' from what they’d done

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Two police officers who battered an injured deer to death with a crowbar will keep their jobs, but removed from firearms duties after being found guilty of gross misconduct.

Andrew Pittilla and Brian Clewlow, from Durham Constabulary, had been given final written warnings after they struck the deer, which was injured in a car accident two days earlier, several times.

A disciplinary panel removed them from firearms duties, but stopped short of sacking them, as it concluded their actions “had not been borne out of cruelty.”

In June last year the officers were called to the scene near Tanfield Lea, County Durham, after an adult deer was reported injured after being struck by a car.

They decided to carry the injured deer away from the road, in the hope it would make a recovery.

Two days later, they were called back to the same road and decided to destroy the deer by beating it with a crowbar.

The officers had told the panel their actions had been “in the best interests” of the deer and they had “gained no satisfaction” from what they’d done.

Durham’s police and crime commissioner, Ron Hogg, said he’d been taking a “close personal interest in this case, which has naturally caused people disgust and distress.”

He said the constabulary had dealt with it in an extremely diligent and professional way and it has left the two officers in “no doubt that their behaviour was unacceptable and unbecoming of a police officer.”

Mr Hogg said due to “one act of stupidity” they had gone from having long, clean and commended records to being stripped of their firearms responsibilities and being on a final warning.

The force’s spokesman said it “regrets the actions of the officers and it expects officers to adhere to its code of ethics “at all times.” The panel felt the outcome of a final written warning was “proportionate” in the circumstances.

 “The lessons learned from this incident will be considered in some depth and will be used to improve the force response to such incidents in the future,” he added.