Judge clears owner after dog mauls boy
PUBLISHED: 10:27 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 21:18 29 May 2010
A TEN-year-old boy sustained injuries to his bottom and chest after he was bitten twice by a German shepherd dog. The first incident happened in a private garden, but the issue a jury was left to decide was whether the second biting also occurred in the g
A TEN-year-old boy sustained injuries to his bottom and chest after he was bitten twice by a German shepherd dog.
The first incident happened in a private garden, but the issue a jury was left to decide was whether the second biting also occurred in the garden or on the footpath outside.
After a two-day trial at Chelmsford Crown Court the jury cleared Natalie Walford, 40, of Rosemary Crescent, Dunmow, of being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control in a public place.
The court heard the charges arose from an incident on October 23 last year when Scott Bradley went to Natalie Walford's house to ask if her daughter Rebecca, also 10, was coming out to play. Scott told the jury that while he was waiting their dog Abraham came out of the front door.
Scott said he was worried and turned and started to run and the dog bit him on the bottom.
He added: "I was in a bit of pain and I slowed down because it hurt. I ran outside the gate and turned round because I didn't know whether he was still after me."
Scott said as he turned "Abe" jumped up at him and bit him on the chest. He began screaming and Natalie called the dog and it went back in.
Rebecca Walford told the jury she tried to pull Abe back but he pushed his nose through the gap in the door and got out. Scott turned round and Abe bit him on the bottom.
She said Abe was biting Scott as he ran to the gate. "Abraham didn't go out of the gate. I know that for a fact he didn't go out of the gate," she said.
Natalie Walford told the court she did not see what happened but Scott told her Abe had bitten him and she took him home.
After the jury returned its verdict, Recorder Robin Knowles QC discharged Natalie Walford and told her she left without a criminal record.
But he added: "It was accepted by you, and readily so on the evidence in this case, that the dog is capable of behaving recklessly. One only has to look at the photos to see the appalling harm visited upon this young child."
He told her that if there were any further incidents of aggression by the dog there could be "very serious repercussions for you".
Recorder Knowles also said that Scott Bradley and Rebecca Walford, now both aged 11, deserved "a degree of admiration" for the way in which they had both conscientiously given their evidence.
"They are both smashing kids." he said.
After the trial, Scott's mother, Noelle Bradley, said that she was dissatisfied with the verdict and may launch a civil action.
She said: "I'm not happy at all, but that's the verdict of 12 fair men and I have to go with it.
"The injuries were very bad; even now, 11 months on his wounds are still all puffed
up and it's preventing him from taking full part in PE lessons at school.
"I'm still considering suing for damages.