Sniffer dog team tracks suspected drink driver after A26 crash

PD Blyss with her handler Sergeant Graeme McKee

PD Blyss with her handler Sergeant Graeme McKee

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Sussex Police have praised a sniffer dog team after a three-mile search across the South Downs ended in the arrest of a suspected drink driver.

Despite an array of skills and technology at his disposal, it was Sergeant Graeme McKee's canine companion who provided the expertise which led to the arrest of a man on the A26 at Tarring Neville, say Sussex Police.

Police say seven-year-old police dog Blyss ignored distractions such as traffic and livestock to guide her handler across fields and farmland, where a group of four men were detained.

The search followed a report of a single vehicle collision at Beddingham Roundabout, at the junctions of the A26 and the A27, at about 6.20am on Sunday (September 18).

On arrival, officers say they discovered the Volkswagen Polo had crashed into signs at the roundabout before being abandoned. Witnesses told officers they saw four men leaving the vehicle.

About half-an-hour later, a group of four men were seen walking on the A26 south of the collision, but traffic units were unable to find them.

Police dog Blyss was let loose and tracked the scent of the men onto the South Downs, away from the main road. She led her handler Sgt McKee for almost three miles through fields, before they came face to face with their targets back on the A26.

By this time, they had already been detained by a team of eagle-eyed officers who searched the road ahead of their colleagues.

One of the group admitted to being the driver of the vehicle which crashed, and was subsequently required to carry out a roadside breath test, which police say he failed.

Tyler Thompson, 20, a telephonist, of Marden Close, Brighton, was arrested and charged with driving with 45mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in his system. He is due to appear before Brighton Magistrates' Court on 20 October.

Sergeant Graeme McKee, of the Sussex and Surrey Police Dog Unit, said: "We spend a lot of time and effort in training our dogs to track suspects or missing people. A long cross country track like this is a great reminder of what our dogs can do and there is still no bit of technology invented that can do what a dog's nose can.

"Blyss showed great focus on her work, even tracking through several fields of livestock and straight past sheep that most dogs would want to chase. She – like all of our police dogs – is a credit to the force and clearly a key asset in catching criminals.

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