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3rd Jul, 2022

Dogs spared after judge rules it was owner who was out of control

A DOG that bit a landowners’ son has been spared from being put down after a judge decided it was her owner, not the dog, who was out of control at the time.

But Tracey Murtagh will lose both of her dogs, Sally and Bella, after the judge at Warwick Crown Court disqualified her from having control of any dog for five years.

The 55-year-old, of Bellfield Croft, Tanworth-in-Arden, had denied assaulting landowners’ son Andrew Quentin and having a dog which caused injury while dangerously out of control.

But she was found guilty following a trial last month, and has now been given a 12-month community order, with a 20-day rehabilitation activity and a restraining order banning her from the land known as Butcher’s Meadow in Tanworth-in-Arden.

During the trial prosecutor Nicholas Burn had said the confrontation took place in Butcher’s Meadow in February 2017.

One of Murtagh’s dogs was off its lead, and Mr Quentin asked her to put it on the lead and return to the public footpath because there were sheep in the field.

But Murtagh reacted by hitting him with a ball-thrower and kicking him, and he was also bitten to the leg by Sally as the incident was captured in part on mobile phone footage.

The recordings showed Murtagh shouting hysterically, and Mr Quentin, a schoolmaster, showed his hand to his phone and described how he had been bitten by the dog and kicked by Murtagh multiple times.

Julian Lynch, defending, said Murtagh, who had previous convictions for offences including battery, was ‘a lady with a complicated background,’ with tragedies including the deaths of her son and one of her brothers.

“She can from time to time effectively lose her temper. She was always embarrassed by her behaviour, although she didn’t accept it was criminal. She has perhaps an over-exaggerated tendency to defend herself.”

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC said he was not going to order the dog be destroyed.

Sentencing Murtagh, Judge Lockhart told her: “Faced with a reasonable request to leave, you acted very violently, and you could not be calmed. You were immediately confrontational and aggressive, and you chose to shout and scream.

“You did not at any point need to defend yourself or your dogs. Your conduct was to confuse and wind up your dog. No doubt Sally thought it might need to protect you.”

The judge said he accepted Murtagh did not set Sally on Mr Quentin, but told her: “You have shown a lack of ability to control yourself when faced with challenge.

“I am absolutely clear in this case that you are not a fit and proper person to have custody of a dog.

“Sally and Bella will be removed from you, and Sally will be subject to a contingent order to be destroyed, and must be on a lead and in a muzzle in public.”

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