Killer Who Shot Planning Officer In Front Of TV Cameras Released

The brother of a council planning officer shot dead of live television by a landowner who has been released from prison today said he hopes he dies slowly.

Albert Dryden, 76, gunned down Harry Collinson in front of journalists when his illegally-built bungalow was due to be demolished in Butsfield, County Durham in 1991.

Dryden has been serving a life sentence but has been let out today and admitted to a care home after suffering a stroke behind bars.

But Mr Collinson’s older brother Roy has spoken out of his disgust about the decision and slammed Dryden for refusing to show remorse for his actions.

Speaking today he said: ‘Personally, I couldn’t bloody care less what happens to Albert Dryden. If he dies slowly that’s good. I’ll be very happy about that.’

A former steelworker, Dryden had previously been refused parole, because he had shown had no remorse.

Mr Collinson said he was shocked after two decades, Dryden was still trying to justify his reasons.

He said: ‘Personally, I couldn’t bloody care less what happens to Albert Dryden. If he dies slowly that’s good. I’ll be very happy about that.

‘He never showed one bit of remorse in all the 26 years he has been in prison.

‘He still tried to justify his actions for some God-unknown reason.’

He added: ‘If the police had done their job properly, my brother wouldn’t have been killed and Albert Dryden wouldn’t have spent all this time in prison.’

Mr Collinson was enforcing the demolition of Dryden’s illegally-built bungalow when Dryden drew a First World War gun and shot him dead in front of local media on June 20, 1991.

As well as shooting 46-year-old Mr Collinson, he also wounded police officer Stephen Campbell in the buttock and reporter Tony Belmont in the arm.

The showdown with planning officials of the former Derwentside District Council followed a dispute that had gone on for several years.

Dryden built his bungalow in a hollow, because he wrongly thought he would not need planning permission, which the council refused to grant.

Durham County Councillor Alex Watson, who served as leader of the district council at the time said: ‘Mr Dryden has had a severe stroke. He has been in hospital and he cannot speak.

‘He has more than paid the penalty. You are talking about 26 years ago that it happened. He is in poor health and he is not going to recover and the prison authorities have decided he should be released.

‘He will be looked after in a residential care home.

‘He can’t do any harm to anyone. He is a defenceless person.’

Albert Dryden had ploughed his redundancy money into the one-acre plot of land, which he called Maryland Close, a few miles from the town of Consett.

He put up two greenhouses, a shed, parked a caravan on the land, and built an archway at the gated entrance.

He also hired a digger and scooped out more than 2,000 tonnes of earth from near the fence with the road and built a partly-sunken bungalow in the resulting hole, forming a screening mound around it.

But Dryden, who wanted to spend his time tinkering with American cars, growing vegetables and keeping livestock, did not have planning permission.

Derwentside District Council – abolished in County Durham’s local government shake-up two years ago – refused to approve the development in a rural area made up of conventional farms.

The council, which was keen to create an environment conducive to tourism, was also worried the bungalow represented a precedent that would unlock the door to other housing on land where it would not normally be permitted.

Dryden lost his planning appeal to keep the bungalow, although the Government inspector who chaired the hearing said some of the other buildings could stay because of the time they had been there.

The wrangle dragged on for several months with the council attempting to reach a compromise that would avoid the need to bulldoze the bungalow.

The last suggestion was that Dryden modify the building and use it for keeping livestock, but he rejected this.

Finally, councillors decided there was no option but demolition, and the date was set for Thursday June 20 1991.

On the day media gathered with Dryden on the land with his friends and supporters.

Dryden had a letter from the Planning Inspectorate, which he had fixed to his gate, indicating no action could be taken until an appeal had been heard.

The letter had given Dryden the belief the council was breaking the law, even though there were no grounds for an appeal.

Harry Collinson came to the gate, looked at the letter and told him it contained nothing to prevent the demolition.

Dryden replied that ‘you might not be around to see the outcome of this disaster’.

Mr Collinson told Dryden he could have time to move things out of the building and he moved to a point in the fence where the bulldozer was to come through.

Dryden went to his caravan and picked up a First World War revolver, strode back to the fence and drew the weapon on Mr Collinson, whose last words were to the TV crew: ‘Can you get a shot of this gun?’

Dryden then fired at the fleeing crowd, hoping to get the council’s solicitor, Mike Dunstan, but instead hitting TV reporter Tony Belmont in the arm and PC Stephen Campbell in the backside.

Dryden had denied murder but was convicted after a trial and jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court in 1992.

He was denied parole in 2001 after it was felt he showed little evidence of remorse.

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