Harpenden dog walker hospitalised after bull mastiff attack

A bull mastiff dog

A bull mastiff dog - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Harpenden man whose bull mastiff hopitalised a fellow dog-walker and her lowchen has been ordered to pay compensation, courts costs and a fine totalling £1,766.

Paul Croley, 63, of Eastmoor Park, Harpenden, had been walking his bull mastiff around Rothamsted Park when it attacked Amanda Clarke and her dog, leaving them with serious wounds and a £500 vet bill.

The bull mastiff avoided being put down but magistrates ordered that she be muzzled, kept on a lead and supervised by someone over the age of 16 at all times while in public spaces.

Amanda Clarke told the court she had been walking her two dogs around Rothamsted Park in February with a friend, when her lowchen, Rufus, got into a confrontation with the bull mastiff.

She said: “The bull mastiff and Rufus were nose to nose, sniffing each other. But there was no body language, no indication that anything bad was going to happen.

“Then the bull mastiff just went for Rufus’s throat. I screamed [to Mr Croly], ‘get hold of your dog,’ but nobody grabbed the bull mastiff or shouted at it.”

Ms Clarke then told the court how Rufus rolled onto his back and went completely submissive, “screaming for his life”.

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“I have always been told not to try and separate them or make a noise,” she said. “You have to wait – it seemed like forever.”

However Joanna Mantell, defending Mr Croly, said: “I put it to you that you did intervene. You did try and separate the dogs and in doing so got bitten.

“And you cannot say for certain which dog bit you.”

Ms Clarke rejected Ms Mantell’s assertions, saying: “That is not what happened. I tried to pick up Rufus and the bull mastiff bit me. The pain was excruciating.”

Ms Clarke’s friend, Lorraine Fisher, and another witness, Robert Croxen, confirmed that they had both seen the dog attack Rufus. Mr Croxen told the court: “The large dog had the small dog in its mouth and was shaking it around.”

PC Tim Armstrong, who had been called to the scene, said he believed that Ms Clarke’s injuried had been sustained by the larger bull mastiff.

But Mr Croly told the court that the bull mastiff, Lily, was a “friendly and approachable dog”, and there was “no indication whatsoever” that she would become aggresive.

He said: “She was off the lead and she was saying hello to lots of other dogs.”

He then told the court that he had hold of Lily’s collar at the time Ms Clarke alleged she was bitten. “I had a good, firm grip,” he said. “She was not going anywhere.”

However Jessica Deuchar, prosecuting, said: “I suggest that she did bite Amanda and you could not control her. I suggest that she came back for at least a second go and Lily bit Ms Clarke. I suggest that she had been so wound up by the smaller dog that she had simply gone for them both.”

My Croly answered “no” each time.

The magistrates ordered Mr Croly to pay a £350 fine, £620 in court costs, a £35 victim surcharge and £761 compensation to Ms Clarke.