More seized dogs in Liverpool court
THE OWNERS of seven dogs seized by police as pit bull types in Merseyside appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ court two weeks ago, on Friday, September 7th, charged under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.
The cases were heard before District Judge Clancey, who has been seen to have a somewhat less lenient approach to such cases as some of his colleagues who have presided over previous hearings.
Several of the cases being heard on this day had been adjourned previously in order for further evidence to be presented to the court.
The first case to be heard was that of James Riley and his dog Zebo. Mr Riley was assisted by the Fury Defence Fund. Mr Riley lives with his mother Patricia and their dogs Zebo, aged 18 months and Zebo’s mother Stella, aged four. Both were much loved family pets that had caused no problem in the past.
The dogs were seized as illegal pit bull ‘types’ on April 4th by police officers that allegedly acted in a very aggressive manner. Mr Riley was distraught and contacted the Fury Defence Fund who supported him and gave him advice. Stella was later released without charge – although she had lost a lot of weight in custody – but Zebo was held back and charges were proceeded with under Section 4b of the DDA.
The case came to court on July 19th, when the court was made aware that Patricia Riley was Zebo’s owner, not James. The case was adjourned until September 7th.
At the September hearing, a report by the police expert on Zebo was presented, in which the police themselves stated that Zebo had excellent temperament and was very friendly. James Riley and his mother were called to give evidence, but mention was made of a minor, unrelated offence concerning Mr Riley.
Mr Riley’s solicitor failed to call the two expert witnesses who prepared to give testimony on Zebo’s behalf, not did the solicitor present letters from neighbour saying how well behaved the dog was.
Judge Clancey told Mr Riley: ‘People like you get these dogs. I know I have a right to release the dog, but I don’t have to.’ He duly ordered that Zebo be destroyed.
Mr Riley lodged an immediate appeal and is understood to have placed the case in the hands of another solicitor.
The remaining cases were defended by veteran dog solicitor Trevor Cooper, whose service shad been secured by the anti-BSL group, Deed Not Breed. Mr Cooper had in turn instructed well known barrister Pamela Rose to defend the cases. Ms Rose was assisted by Melanie Rushmore of the Bull Breed Advisory Service and Melanie Page of Deed Not Breed.
Case 2 was that of Jackie Rushton. Her dog Lennox was seized by the police after they entered her property to recover what they alleged was a stolen table and chairs. OUR DOGS previously published Mrs Rushton’s story after Lennox was ‘lost’ in the police system for almost a week.
The judge heard police reports that Lennox was a friendly and playful dog, able to be examined easily and with no signs of aggression.
Under cross examination by police solicitor James Clarke, Jackie was asked if Lennox had undergone training, whether he’d ever shown aggression towards people or other animals and bizarrely, whether Lennox had ever destroyed any property.
After questioning by the judge, Jackie was able to satisfy him that Lennox posed no danger to the public and allowed him to be entered onto the Index of Exempted Dogs.
In light of the circumstances surrounding the seizure of Lennox and the obvious distress caused to the family during the time Lennox was ‘missing’. Deed Not Breed and Mrs Rushton extended special thanks to Inspector Neil Davies of the Merseyside Police Dog Section for his help in getting the case heard at the earliest opportunity.
Ms Rushton was clearly elated to hear that Lennox will be coming home.
The third case to be heard was that of Jennifer Woods and her dog Mason. Ms Woods’s case was previously adjourned after the Judge asked for more evidence surrounding the seizure of the dog.
The police presented evidence relating to Ms Woods’s boyfriend. Ms Woods herself has no previous convictions but was present at her boyfriend’s flat, along with her dog when he was arrested for possession of drugs.
The reports from the breed ID expert stated that Mason is a playful friendly dog, able to be examined easily, including the mouth and teeth.
Pamela Rose put forward a strong argument in which she pointed out that a boyfriend’s past record has no bearing whatsoever on the dog or the owner herself, and that the dog itself was not a danger to the public
Ms Woods took the stand, as did her mother, who both explained that Mason was a family pet, bought by her parents as a birthday present.
Ms Woods also pointed out that she has now ended the relationship with her boyfriend who is currently serving a prison sentence.
After short consideration, Judge Clancey ruled that in his opinion the dog did constitute a danger to the public and ordered that he be destroyed.
Ms Woods was clearly upset and launched an immediate appeal against this decision.
The next case relating to Mr Michael Hampson, owner of a dog adopted from the RSPCA and now deemed by police to be a pit bull type, was adjourned until 10th October.
Miss Natalie Woods, whose case had been previously adjourned, was again adjourned again until 10th October.
The last case concerned Mr Anthony Adlard who had previously won an appeal against a destruction order on his dog, and has also been adjourned until 10th October.
The case was quite a complicated one – Mr Adlard’s dog Hendrick got into a fight with another dog. The owner of the other dog was bitten when she tried to break up the fight and made a complaint. Adlard’s dog was off-lead; hers was on an extending lead.
The case was brought under Section 3 of the DDA – the dog being deemed to be ‘dangerously out of control in a public place’ and the judge ordered Hendrick’s destruction plus gave Adlard a three year ban from owning a dog.
Adlard appealed the decision and won. The Crown court judge lifted the destruction order and ban and ordered the dog be returned home with restrictions of muzzling and on lead in public places.
However, the Crown Prosecution Service neglected to mention that Hendrick is a section 1 dog ‘of the type’ and therefore cannot be returned to his unless he is exempted.
The police now has had to technically hand Adlard’s dog back and re-seize it under Section 4b of the DDA in order to get the dog placed on the register.
Judge Clancey made the point that he could overturn the Crown court judge’s decision and order the dog to be destroyed, but asked for court transcripts from the appeal so that the case can be reconsidered when it is heard again on October 10th.