THE death of a planning officer who was gunned down while enforcing the demolition of an illegally built bungalow could have been avoided, his family have said.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Harry Collinson, who was murdered by Albert Dryden at Butsfield, near Consett, in County Durham.

Live television crews and photographers captured the moment the 46-year-old was shot and images were beamed around the world.

His older brother, Roy Collinson, said the father-of-two died needlessly and it could have been prevented.

Mr Collinson, a farmer, said: "It should never happened. Albert Dryden was an eccentric and dangerous man who was fascinated with guns and explosives.

"Harry should not have been doing that job. He was a local planning officer.

"He should not have been dealing with armed lunatics. That is the annoying part of it.

"People who knew Dryden, and he was quite well known, always knew he would do something like this. He said he would and did.

"It was incompetence and the authorities did not realise how dangerous he was."

Alderman Alex Watson, who was the newly elected leader of Derwentside District Council at the time, agrees more should have been done to protect Mr Collinson.

He said Dryden was known to be a danger and police had been warned Dryden had said he would shoot Mr Collinson prior to the killing.

Dryden had also threatened to lay land mines in his land and throw hand grenades into the council chamber.

Mr Watson said: "There is no question it could have been prevented and it should have been. It is a big regret of mine.

"The police were told three days earlier that he said he would shoot Harry and the threat should have been taken seriously.

"There is no doubt that Harry's brother is absolutely right."

A police spokesman said Durham Constabulary's response to this tragic event was subject to an internal enquiry.

She said: "A number of procedural issues were identified which were subsequently addressed. We continue to extend our sympathies to Mr Collinson's family."

Dryden, now 71, had built a bungalow into his land without planning permission, claiming that it was not required as only the roof was visible.

The showdown with planning officials took place on the land after a long running dispute that had gone on for several years.

As well as shooting Mr Collinson twice with a First World War Derringer he also wounded police officer, Stephen Campbell, in the buttock and BBC Look North reporter, Tony Belmont, in the arm.

Roy Collinson, who was six years older than Harry and shared a bedroom with him at their boyhood house in Edmundbyers, was at home at Stocksfield in Northumberland, when he heard about the shooting.

Mr Collinson, who is now 72, said: "We did not know whether he had been injured at first. We said it'll be that damn house because everyone knew about it.

"Ten minutes later the police pulled up and asked me to ring Consett Police Station, which I did and was told that Harry has been killed and I was to go over to identify his body."

Dryden has served 19 years behind bars for the shooting spree and is now in Haverigg Prison, near Barrow-in-Furness.

Roy Collinson said he is confident his brother's killer will never be released.

He said: "There is a victim support unit from the Probation Service that occasionally write letters to me because every now and then there is a ridiculous story that he is going to be released.

"They tell me that these rumours and stories are without foundation.

"He is never going to be released because he has never shown remorse and never admitted what he did was wrong or anything out of the ordinary.

"I imagine now he is so institutionalised in the prison that he is quite happy to stay there."

A spokesman for the Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust said offenders sentenced in relation to crimes of this kind are not released unless the Parole Board is satisfied that it is safe to do so, adding: "The trust is not planning for the management of Albert Dryden's imminent release."

After the shooting Derwentside District Council dedicated a nature reserve off the A694, between Hamsterley and Hamsterley Mill, in Mr Collinson's memory.

A plaque in his honour installed outside the council chamber at Consett Civic Centre, which has been earmarked for demolition, is today (fri) being unveiled and rededicated at County Hall in Durham.

Mr Collinson added: "When they scrap the council offices in Consett they could not just put the plaque in the bin.

"Harry was killed doing the job of a planning officer and these people are working with the likes of Dryden all the time.

"The planning department in Durham should always have something there to remind them what happened for at least a lifetime or more so something like this does not happen again."