Wednesday, December 15, 2010

bite thy neighbour

Crown court judges often leave the courtroom less than best pleased, but not often swearing out loud and carrying a criminal conviction. Judge Bolton was devastated at being found guilty of an offence under section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, by allowing her dog (ironically classified by the police as not dangerous) to enter her neighbour’s part of their shared garden and bite him on the leg. Frederick Becker, aged 20 and known as Fritz, was bitten by the German Shepherd (you couldn’t make this up) causing him a bruise and a cut. Georgina has received obedience training since the incident; that’s the dog, not the owner.

Regretting her outburst, she (the owner) said “I above all else would never disrespect a court", forgetting for a moment that she had been asked during the trial to stop chewing gum.

It seems Judge Bolton was a bit unlucky in that she had previously offered to put up a fence between their territories to limit Georgina's range, but the neighbours refused. She feels strongly there has been an injustice, and maybe there has because, from studying the footage from the neighbours’ security camera, the court could not be certain that Fritz's injuries arose from the dog’s teeth or from some other mishap.

No injustice is welcomed, though it may be a harsh but salutary lesson for a judge to understand how a defendant feels to have received a guilty verdict when believing, or even knowing for certain, that he/she is not guilty. At least she still has her freedom, and the dog has hers.

On leaving the courtroom, apart from using the f word and calling the verdict a travesty, Judge Bolton also shouted that she will “never set foot in a court again". The Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor may take her up on that.



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