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Police charges against DDA dog discredited


A GERMAN Shepherd Dog named Morgan found himself on two charges for alleged control incidents - and on one occasion cited he wasn’t even in the vicinity, which led to an official complaint being registered against a police officer.

On September 28th 2000, Mrs Celia Emmott, an experienced dog owner who has previously kept Collies, was walking five-year-old Morgan along a disused railway track, close to woods, near her rural home in West Sussex.

Mrs Emmott saw two labradors running free towards herself and Morgan, with their female owner some considerable way off. The owner, later identified as Glenys Ann Simpson, later made a complaint to police alleging that Morgan had bitten one of her dogs.

A PC Stephen Page from Sussex police called on Mrs Emmott, along with Glenys Simpson, to identify the dog. Mrs Emmott alleges at some stage during this visit that PC Page told her “I don’t want fisticuffs with you.”

Jogging

A second allegation was made by PC Page himself just days later, stating that on Sunday, October 1st, he was out jogging with his collie when Morgan ran up and frightened his dog Mrs Emmott states that Morgan was at home, indoors at the time and she had visitors who would corroborate her story. Mrs Emmott subsequently made an official complaint against PC Page.

Mrs Emmott also made contact with OUR DOGS columnist Robert Killick and the Fury Defence Fund for assistance and support.

A summons arrived in December 2000 with two charges, one under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, relating to the labrador incident and the second charge under the 1871 Dogs Act relating to the fictitious incident relating to PC Page and his collie.

In March 2001, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the DDA charge. Mrs Emmott’s solicitor Peter Rolph wrote to the CPS stating that they were only pursuing the remaining (1871) charge because a police officer was involved. The CPS wrote back stating they were pursuing it because of “the other labrador incident” - i.e. the 1991 DDA charge which they themselves had dropped! Mrs Emmott described the CPS’ reply and logic as “bizarre”.

Throughout 2001 there were several adjournments, causing great distress to Mrs Emmott. Finally, the hearing was booked for two days, but at two different courts: Hayward’s Heath Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, January 23rd 2002 and Horsham Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, January 24th 2002.

Several friends and relatives attended court to support Mrs Emmott and Morgan, and several testimonials had been submitted o the court in support of Morgan. Animal Behaviourist Roger Mugford was in court ready to give verbal evidence further to a written report he had already submitted. Juliette Glass of the FDF also attended in a supportive capacity. The defence counsel was Mr Justin Cole.

Proceedings took on an element of pure farce when the Prosecutor told the court that the Crown was NOT going to precede with the 1871 charge. It transpired that Mrs Emmott and her solicitor had been misled into thinking that “the remaining 1871 Charge was in relation to the PC Page incident”, but instead it was NOW the labrador incident! The Prosecutor realised that this matter had been dropped and could not be restarted.

Annoyance

Mr Cole for the Defence expressed his annoyance at this matter and stated that he was applying for costs. The Prosecution asked for an adjournment. After hearing the submissions from Counsel and taking advice from the Clerk of the Court, the Magistrate retired to deliberate.

Upon their return, the Chairman of the Bench stated: “The Prosecution do not intend to pursue the case .Mrs Emmott has prepared for the contested hearing today and is applying for costs. We see no reason to further delay and we refuse the application for an adjournment.”

The Prosecution were required to formally withdraw the case, which they duly did. She then went on to oppose an order for costs, citing “complicated issues” involved.

A lengthy discourse followed, in which Mr Cole pointed out that statements form six witnesses were taken, including Dr Mugford’s report.

Mr Cole claimed £5,935 costs, supported by invoices. The Bench deliberated and awarded £4,500 costs, payable by Sussex police to Mrs Emmott.

Mrs Emmott expressed intense relief at her exoneration in the matter, but was understandably annoyed at the long period of stress that the looming trial had put her under. She thanked all those who had helped her.

Sussex police made no comment on the matter.