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Byline: NATHAN BEVAN Reporter

THE disabled motorist whose car window was smashed by a policeman who became a laughing stock has dubbed a PS439,434 payout to the officer "obscene." Recovering stroke victim Robert Whatley, 73, was stunned to see former PC Mike Baillon awarded the windfall sum after telling an employment tribunal he had to leave the force because his colleagues had mocked him.

Mr Whatley found himself at the centre of an international media storm when a 2009 video clip of Mr Baillon repeatedly and violently striking the window of his 4x4 with a metal truncheon until it shattered went viral.

Mr Baillon. 47, was cleared of wrongdoing by Gwent Police but left the force claiming he was subjected to ridicule by colleagues. He has since defended his actions, saying he was putting into practice training on how to deal with stolen cars.

Mr Whatley, of Monmouthshire, was awarded a PS20,000 payout from the police over the damage caused to his vehicle, but was later ordered to fork out PS235 after being found guilty of various minor motoring offences. He said he still considered himself a victim.

He said: "I consider myself a victim of his actions as he was in a position of authority.

"It's an obscene figure to be awarded and on this occasion the law let the public down."

He said that he had driven away from Mr Baillon, who had stopped him for not wearing a seat belt, because he had to get back home to take his stroke medication.

"I told him, 'Don't take it out on me because you're having a bad day, I'm not a well man' and I drove off," he said.

What followed was a 17-minute pursuit, within the speed limit, through the country lanes of Monmouthshire, all of which was captured on the dash-board camera in PC Baillon's patrol car.

The footage - which would become jokingly dubbed 'the Whatley incident' by PC Baillon's colleagues - culminated with the former traffic officer battering the driver's side window of the PS60k Range Rover, while a colleague jumped on the bonnet in an attempt to kick in the windscreen. Although Mr Baillon was cleared of any wrongdoing by both a criminal and professional standards investigation, he was subsequently relieved of carrying out frontline duties and launched a civil action against police chiefs as a result.

At an employment tribunal, the panel gave a verdict of constructive dismissal and awarded Mr Bail-lon PS429,434 for loss of pension and a further PS10,000 for loss of earnings.

"Talk about disproportionate: PS20,000 for the victim and more than PS400k for the perpetrator," said Mr Whatley.

"I had trouble sleeping for a longtime afterwards and kept replaying the incident over and over in my mind.

"All of a sudden I felt like everyone's eyes were on me, going 'Look, there's that bloke from the news'.

"It was a really stressful and embarrassing time and I'd go so far as to say it prolonged my recovery greatly.

"Mr Baillon knows what he did was wrong, you've only got to watch the video to realise how clear that is."

Speaking after his tribunal in Cardiff last week Mr Baillon admitted the payment - compensation for the loss of pension he would have accrued had he remained in active duty until retirement - had been "a massive amount".

But he added that he'd have given it up for the opportunity to have stayed in his old job.

"I know what I did looks shocking, but when you look at the whole context it was perfectly acceptable," he said.

SEE THE VIDEO ONLINE To see the video which caused Mike Baillon such consternation, visit www.walesonline


The video of the police officer wielding his truncheon became a YouTube hit

Former PC Mike Baillon outside his home

Robert Whatley of Usk, South Wales, gives his views on PC Mike Baillon's compensation payout

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 9, 2014
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