Craig Taberer: CCTV footage of assault

Watch our footage of the incident that led to Craig Taberer's conviction for GBH and let us know what you think

Today the Biggleswade Chronicle gives its army of readers the chance to have their say on a controversial court case.

Three weeks ago, 20-year-old Craig Taberer, of Kitelands Road, Biggleswade, was convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on a policeman, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and perverting the course of justice because he burnt his clothes following the incident.

He is due to be sentenced at Luton Crown Court this Friday (August 1), where the judge in the case has already told him he can expect a long prison term.

Family and friends will be staging a vigil outside the court wearing Free Craig Taberer T-shirts. A website has also been set up on networking site Facebook for friends to pledge messages of support.

Craig Taberer's family say CCTV images of the incident provide clear evidence that burly off duty policeman John Watson had been spoiling for a fight with him, a 16-year-old girl and another teenage boy.

They say Craig, an apprentice carpenter, was forced into a position where he had no choice but to strike Mr Watson over the head with a skateboard.

You can now decide for yourself as the Biggleswade Chronicle has obtained the CCTV footage of the incident, which happened on June 15, 2006. Click on the play button above right to see the footage.

It shows Mr Watson, sporting a skinhead haircut and tattoos, and wearing an England football shirt and jeans, finger pointing and gesturing aggressively towards Craig, who was 18 at the time, seven-stone Collette Welham, who was 16, and Bradley Saunders, who was 19.

When Mr Watson squares up to Miss Welham, Craig Taberer reacts. He is seen grabbing a skateboard from another young boy who had stopped to watch the commotion and strikes the officer over the head with it.

Both go the ground and there follows a brief attack on Mr Watson by all three as they deliver a flurry of kicks and punches, which they said in court was to keep him on the floor.

As a result of Craig Taberer's split-second decision he is now locked up in the category A wing of Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes.

Collette Welham, who is now 18 and from Exeter Close, Biggleswade, and Bradley Saunders, 21, of Hereford Grove in the town, were both found guilty of assaulting the officer occasioning him actual bodily harm at the end of a second trial.

They have been allowed bail, but are expecting custodial sentences as well.

Craig's father Wayne Taberer, 42, a plumber from Stevenage, said: "My son had to make a split second decision that night - you can see that on the CCTV footage.

"All he knew was that a muscular, aggressive skinhead in an England shirt, who was shouting and swearing at them all, appeared to be ready to strike Collette.

"That's why he did what he did. My son and Bradley had been trying to protect a 16-year-old girl from a 41-year-old skinhead who had been drinking.

"They were trying to calm the situation, but he was having none of it. He had lost it completely by then."

He added: "Craig did what he had to do. He honestly thought in that split second that this man, who was behaving like a complete thug, was about to attack a slip of a girl.

"My son has told me 'Dad, I had to do something - he threatened to kill us'.

"He's not a bad lad, none of those kids are, but to send Craig to prison for years, which is what is going to happen on August 1, is totally wrong and it's not justice."

"When you see the CCTV footage and the way Watson was behaving he was clearly out for trouble - spoiling for a fight.

"He never once took out his warrant card or revealed he was a police officer which, let's face it, if he had done that it would have nipped the whole thing in the bud.

"You would never have guessed in a million years from the CCTV footage that this man is a serving policeman with 18 years' experience."

Wayne Taberer is calling on senior officers in British Transport Police to look closely at Mr Watson's behaviour that night and plans to write to them. "This officer should resign," he said.

"I just want this officer to come clean and apologise for his behaviour that night. I want him to say 'I was out of order that night and that these youngsters should be released.

"My son is on a category A wing with convicted murderers, armed robbers, sex attackers and paedophiles. Is that right, I ask?"

British Transport Police have said today that the officer, John Watson, went through a misconduct hearing in July in relation to his behaviour during the incident.

A spokesman said it will conclude in August.

For more background to the case, click here

Do you think Craig Taberer has been unfairly treated by the British justice system?

Was his attack on John Watson a legitimate attempt to prevent any harm coming to his friends in the face of provocation?

Or was it a huge over-reaction considering no physical assault had been committed by John Watson?

Make your own mind up by viewing the CCTV footage. Feel free to post a comment below or send an email by clicking here.

Alternatively write to us at Biggleswade Chronicle, 7 High Street, Biggleswade, SG18 0JB.