New father yet to receive police apology over baby hot sauce visit

By Tom Wilkinson, Press Association

Police have yet to apologise to a father they questioned after he posted a joke on Facebook about accidentally giving his tiny son a taste of hot chilli sauce.

Barber Paul Dawson, 39, said the upsetting experience spoiled his first days with baby Ben when two officers came to his home in Stockton, Teesside, to ask about giving him spicy sauce.

The incident was sparked by someone reporting him to Cleveland Police after they saw a post he had written about a trip to a TGI Fridays restaurant.

Paul Dawson with his baby son Ben (Family handout)

Mr Dawson explained he was out with his partner, Laurencia Wood, 21, and their baby – who was born on New Year’s Day – and the infant was being breastfed.

After wiping his hands on a napkin, the businessman took hold of the baby to allow his partner to eat her food.

Mr Dawson then put a knuckle in Ben’s mouth to pacify him – forgetting he had been eating chilli.

The baby made a “funny face”, but did not scream of cry, he said.

Mr Dawson later wrote on Facebook: “Apparently five-day-old babies don’t like it when their dads put their fingers in their mouths after eating hot wings.

“Unintentionally by the way. Lol.”

A few days later, Mr Dawson was stunned when police knocked on his door to ask if he had been feeding the baby hot sauce.

The new dad said he felt tearful that someone had called the police about him, and the officers left after agreeing they had not read the original Facebook post which sparked their inquiries.

Paul Dawson with son Ben (Family handout)

Mr Dawson said: “It upset me, I walked away from them saying ‘I’m not even speaking to you’.

“It was supposed to be a happy time, I took a few days off to spend with just my girlfriend and just my son.

“It really spoiled what was supposed to have been a nice week together.

“I haven’t had an apology.”

Mr Dawson did not blame the officers who attended, but said better checks of his Facebook post should have been made before scarce resources were sent out to speak to him.

He said: “Ben didn’t cry, he didn’t scream, he pulled a funny little face and that was it.

“To go from a light-hearted funny little occurrence to having the police at your door was shocking to say the least.”

A Cleveland Police spokesperson said: “Police received a call from a member of the public regarding concern for the welfare of a baby on Tuesday 8th January.

“As a result, two officers were deployed to an address in Stockton to speak with the parents of the baby to understand the circumstances of the report.

“Officers were satisfied that the baby was safe and well and there were no further enquiries carried out.”