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Sheepdog judge’s attack was ‘out of character’

A TOP Sheepdog judge from the popular television programme One Man and His Dog found himself in a different kind of trial after he assaulted a fellow dog owner whom he believed had allowed her animal to attack his cross collie.

Richard Singleton, 48, put a walking stick across the backsides of both Irene Carroll and Bexley, her Weimaraner, after the dog attacked his Border Collie Sky, which he was training to compete at championship level.

The attack last August left Mrs Carroll, a midwife from Manchester, in shock and in tears and with "significant injuries" to her left buttock which she claims to still cause her discomfort. Singleton stormed away with a shout of "Britannia muppets" when a bystander intervened.

He pleaded guilty last week to assault occasioning actual bodily harm during a hearing at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester. He was sentenced to 100 hours' community service and ordered to pay £750 compensation to Mrs Carroll and £300 costs.

The court heard that Singleton, an international adjudicator for One Man and His Dog, the BBC sheepdog trials show, had bought Sky three years ago from champion breeders and was investing his time and money in training the dog to competition standard.

He was walking Sky along the River Mersey near Northenden golf club in Didsbury, Manchester, when he bumped into Mrs Carroll, who was out with Bexley and Charlie, her sister's whippet.

Mrs Carroll, 48, put the dogs on their leashes but Bexley broke free from her grip and lunged at Sky. The two animals tumbled down a bank until they were separated by Singleton.

Frightened

Lynda Chapman, prosecuting, said Singleton had then picked up Mrs Carroll's handcrafted walking stick, which had belonged to her father, and hit Bexley on the bottom. Mrs Chapman said: "The defendant was extremely angry, swearing and making threats. Mrs Carroll was very frightened. His body language was frightening - he was waving the stick in the air."

Mrs Carroll was kneeling down on the path holding the whippet when Singleton, still swearing angrily, raised the stickover his head and struck Mrs Carroll on the buttocks causing a shooting pain to her leg. Mrs Chapman said: "The fight was over - there was no need whatsoever."

Singleton began to leave the scene but the incident had been witnessed by a man on the other side of the canal. He indicated that he had seen everything, to which Singleton replied: "What did you see?"

When he told how Mrs Carroll had been hit with a stick, Singleton said "Britannia muppets", threw the stick away and left.

Singleton, who has a conviction for wounding 24 years ago, presented character references to the court, including one from the lady golf captain at the Northenden club where he lives and works as a steward.

Sharon Amesu, defending, said: "He reacted in anger to what he was witnessing. He overreacted in anger after seeing his significant investment in peril."

Passing sentence, Judge Jeffrey Lewis said he was persuaded to spare Singleton a jail sentence due to the particular circumstances of the case and his guilty plea. He said: "You accept that you deliberately aimed a blow with a stick on the backside of a lady walking her dog. I accept you lost control on this day and in the normal course of events are trustworthy, conscientious and well-regarded."