Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 15:31 UK

'Lassie' rescues would-be thief

Glen Lyon tried but failed to escape by river

A dog has been hailed a hero like Lassie for rescuing a runaway would-be thief who tried to escape by a river.

Glen Lyon, 25, was spotted acting suspiciously near houses in Aberdeen. He was chased before jumping into the Don, where he was dragged to safety.

Lyon admitted intent to steal, and to attempting to pervert the course of justice. Sentence was deferred for four months for good behaviour.

His lawyer praised the efforts of the police dog.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard officers chased Lyon from a property before he ran underneath a nearby bridge and jumped into the river.

He struggled to stay afloat, so a police dog was sent in after him.

A police dog - almost like something out of a TV film like Lassie - was instructed to go into the water to assist
Mike Monro
Defence solicitor

The dog helped pull him through strong currents until he managed to grab a tree.

He was then pulled to the river bank by a female police officer who also jumped in to save him.

His solicitor, Mike Monro, praised the efforts of the dog and described the river drama as being like the scene of a film.

He said of the unfolding incident: "Unfortunately for him, he was seen by an off duty police officer.

"He was chased by the officer who grabbed him but somehow the accused got out of his upper clothing and was stripped to the waist.

"He then continued to make good escape, although not too great an escape because he scrambled down to the river bank. The River Don at that point is tidal, the accused was swimming against the current."

'Pretty brave'

Mr Monro said that passers-by were standing on the roadside watching the drama unfold and a lifebelt was thrown into the water.

Officers then arrived at the scene and tried to help the man who was clearly in danger.

Glen Lyon
Lyon had his sentence deferred at Aberdeen Sheriff Court

Mr Monro continued: "A police dog - almost like something out of a TV film like Lassie - was instructed to go into the water to assist. By this time, the accused was holding on to a river tree branch.

"However, with the assistance of a pretty brave police officer that had gone into the water, and the police dog, the lifebelt was thrown to him and he was helped out of the water.

"He accepts now that if it were not for the assistance of the police and in particular, the police dog, he might have ended up in a very precarious position."

He added: "Indeed the police officer and dog may have saved his life but certainly not his liberty because he ended up in custody until the next day."

'Good work'

Grampian Police Supt Adrian Watson said: "I am pleased that the good work of one of my officers and the dog she works with have been recognised.

"These are the kind of different situations in which our officers find themselves on a regular basis and this was an example of the professionalism I know I can expect them to deliver."

Lyon, who has previous convictions for stealing from the homes of pensioners while they were out gardening, admitted being on the grounds of two properties with intent to steal on 23 July.

He further admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice by entering the water at River Don estuary and swimming away from police officers to avoid being captured, and to committing the offences while on bail.

His not guilty pleas to repeatedly pulling a police dog under water and committing a breach of the peace by struggling with police officers were accepted by the Crown.

Police dog saved thief from river
18 Aug 08 |  North East/N Isles

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