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Guardian airs powerful TV footage of attack to warn on drink

The Warrington Guardian website has shown powerful CCTV footage of an incident which led to a teenager’s death.

The incident was broadcast with the full backing of his family in an effort to warn against the dangers of binge drinking.

Dale Whitfield, (18), was punched in the face by Dean Talbot-Bennett, (19), during a night out. He suffered a brain haemorrhage and died 48 hours later in hospital.

Last week Talbot-Bennett, who vowed in court he would ‘never drink again’, was jailed for 21 months after admitting manslaughter.

Deputy editor Carla Flynn said: “We initially watched the CCTV footage with a view to using a still in the paper, but what struck everyone on the news desk was how tame the whole incident was. Yes the victim is punched, and punched hard enough to have his nose broken, but it was not a violent street brawl by any means.

“It was powerful footage because it shows how simple it is to destroy so many lives just through having too much to drink and throwing a wanton punch.

“After contacting the family and getting their full support, and deciding that the film wasn’t violent or graphic enough to offend readers, we put the footage on the website with a warning about the dangers of binge drinking.”

The CCTV footage received 3,700 page impressions in the first few days.

The story was also followed four days later by The Mirror, who labelled it an exclusive.

Editor Nicola Priest said: “We have our fair share of problems in Warrington town centre with young people drinking and getting into fights. We hope that by showing the clip, and publishing Mrs Orr’s powerful message, that young people may just sit up and take note.

“We’ve had a really positive response from readers in-paper and online, and so have Dale’s family. Hopefully we can all help make a difference.”

The family also handed over pictures of 18-year-old Dale Whitfield on a life-support machine in an effort to warn young people about the dangers of binge drinking.

Dale’s mum, Sharon Orr, spoke exclusively to the Guardian’s Rebecca Kelly, gave her pictures taken by the family of Dale in hospital and also instructed the CPS to give her a copy of the CCTV.

In her interview printed last Thursday, Sharon said: “I hope all the people reading the Guardian look at the face of my son and see the effect of getting plastered… if seeing what happened to him will help save others, then it’s a hard-hitting message which needs to be told.”

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