William Catlin and his scarred arm after he was bitten by a fleeing shoplifter.
William Catlin and his scarred arm after he was bitten by a fleeing shoplifter.

BITING CRIME

By ED SOUTHORN

WILLIAM Catlin grappled with an escaping shoplifter who took two brutal flesh bites out of his arm and shoulder.

Mr Catlin, 70, owner of Border Batteries and Radiators in Machinery Drive, South Tweed, didn't think twice when he took on the drug user thief.

Mr Catlin was among 22 serving and former police officers and staff, volunteers and local residents honoured at the Tweed Byron Police Local Area Command annual awards presentation yesterday.

He received a Certificate of Appreciation from Northern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter Parsons for his brave role in apprehending the frantic thief, a girl last year. The knockabout local just did what he thought was right when confronted by the 16-year-old sitting on a fence outside his workshop.

She was being chased after stealing from a nearby department store. With her pursuers gaining and calling out to William to lend a hand, she tried to escape past him.

As he blocked her path, she bit him hard on the arm and for a few moments would not let go. William struggled free but she bit again into his shoulder.

"I couldn't believe it, she took a mouthful of my flesh," he said yesterday.

"I'm on blood pressure tablets and there was blood everywhere. I was in a real mess."

With help from his son David, 39, William managed to pin the frantic girl to the ground until police arrived.

Mr Catlin was among 22 serving and former police officers and staff, volunteers and local residents honoured at the Tweed Byron Police Local Area Command annual awards presentation yesterday.

He received a Certificate of Appreciation from Northern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter Parsons for his brave role in apprehending the frantic girl last year.

He told the Daily News he had no time to think about what was happening when the girl clamped her teeth onto him.

He was taken to Tweed Hospital and heavily bandaged, but not stitched, and soon after visited his local doctor. He has been tested for HIV and cleared. Mr Catlin said the girl was a drug user who had since entered a rehabilitation program in Brisbane, where she was now living with her grandmother.

She had also written to him three times and met with him for a victim's conference, under police supervision, as part of her court sentencing, Mr Catlin said.

"I told her I don't hold any grudges," he said, although he will carry the scars on his body for the rest of his life.



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