A WOMAN who had let her dogs off their leads in a field of sheep threatened to set one of them on the landowners’ son when he challenged her about it.
And during the confrontation that followed in the field, Tracey Murtagh kicked and hit the owners’ son who was also bitten by one of her dogs, a jury at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Despite the incident having been captured on their phones, she denied assaulting victim Andrew Quentin and having a dog which caused injury while dangerously out of control.
Murtagh, aged 55, of Bellfield Croft, Tanworth-in-Arden, was found guilty of both charges – and was granted bail when the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on her.
Prosecutor Nicholas Burn said the confrontation took place in Butcher’s Meadow, Tanworth-in-Arden, in February 2017.
“The defendant had with her two dogs, one on a lead and the other not. Mr Quentin, whose family own the field, approached her because there was livestock in the field, some sheep.
“It was his intention to ask her to put the dog on a lead for that reason, but the response from the defendant was unacceptable, and there was no justification for what took place.
“It involved her assaulting the gentleman, and in addition the dog bit Mr Quentin, causing him injury,” and Mr Burn said the incident was captured in part on mobile phone footage.
“Of particular note is the fact that the lady appears to be approaching the gentleman and shouting in an aggressive manner, and at one point threatens to set the dogs on him to savage him.
“Whatever lay behind that behaviour, the prosecution say an offence of assault had taken place, and equally the dog, having bitten the gentleman, was dangerously out of control.”
The mobile phone recordings played to the jury showed Mr Quentin and Murtagh, who had been asked to put the dogs on a lead and return to the public footpath, walking towards each-other.
Murtagh began shouting hysterically: “Go away from me. I don’t know who you are, go away. Go, I’m not turning my back on you. I’m in a field on my own. Go away. Go away, or the dog will bite you. I don’t know who you are. Identify yourself.”
Mr Quentin told her he was the person who manages the land, but Murtagh screamed: “Identify yourself to the camera for the purpose of the police, otherwise my dog will savage you. Who are you?”
Told she was on private property and to return to the road, she continued shouting: “You’re a man, go away from me. Don’t you dare ever approach me and my dogs again.”
Giving a commentary of what was happening, Mr Quentin showed his hand to his phone and described: “I have been bitten by the dog and kicked by her multiple times, and my legs have been bitten by the dog.”
Mr Quentin, a schoolmaster, told the court his parents own the land, and there were sheep owned by a tenant farmer in the field when he saw Murtagh ‘a distance away from the footpath’ with her dogs off the lead.
“The dogs were chasing a ball being thrown for them. I decided to enter Butcher’s Meadow and approach the person to ask them to put the dogs on the lead and to return to the footpath.
“The defendant looked over and recognised me, and I recognised who they were. I took my phone out to capture the interactions between us.
“I shouted something along the lines of ‘You are trespassing, you know you are. Please put the dogs back on the lead.’ She continued playing with the dogs off the lead.
“I stopped short of going into her personal space. She span round and looked at me and started shouting things at me. She became more aggressive and started to advance towards me.
“She started hitting me using the ball-thrower that was in her hand, making contact with my arms and hands.
“I backed away, but she continued hitting me and kicking me. One of the dogs bit me on my leg.”
Murtagh claimed there were no sheep in the field, and said she saw Mr Quentin take something from his pocket.
“I didn’t know what it was, and I was trying to push him away from me. I was throwing my arms and legs about to keep him away from me. The dog bit him, not savagely, just nipped him because I was in distress.”