September 16 2014 Latest news:
Friday, August 1, 2014
A babysitter has appeared in court after a dog deemed to be in her care attacked a neighbour and killed a cat.
Georgina Spicer, 20, is today warning babysitters of the potential hazards of looking after children while pets are in the house after she paid the price for someone else’s out-of-control dog.
Spicer, of Mill Green, Edwardstone, near Sudbury, was sentenced at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court for being in charge of Tizzy, a Jack Russell terrier, which injured Melanie Richardson.
She was babysitting Cally Marsh’s one-year-old son at Ms Marsh’s home address in Edwardstone when the child opened the door to the garden, letting the two dogs out, while she was hanging out the washing.
The court heard Spicer - who was the only adult there - tried to get Tizzy and a Spaniel dog back, but they ended up in a neighbour’s garden. Tizzy injured Ms Richardson, who suffered eight puncture wounds to her left arm, and committed a “frenzied” attack on her cat, which later died.
Ms Richardson had to use a stick to release the dog’s grip on her arm, said Wayne Ablett, prosecuting,
Spicer, who was representing herself in court, had tried to change her plea back to not guilty at the start of the hearing and cried in the dock when the magistrates told her the guilty plea would stand as she had no new evidence.
Spicer said she had been wrongly advised by a solicitor to plead guilty.
She said: “I was only responsible for the one-year-old; that was all I was told. There was no prior arrangement for me to look after the dogs.”
She added: “I think it’s very unfair I’m getting blamed for this. I was only the babysitter.”
Chair of the magistrates Marian de Bass said the magistrates had gone outside of their guidelines to give Spicer a conditional discharge for six months.
She said: “You must realise that at the time you were in charge of the household which included a small child and two dogs. However the garden had not been made secure therefore the incident happened.”
She was also ordered to pay £300 compensation, £40 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Ms de Bass made an order for Tizzy to be destroyed within two months, saying “this dog killed a cat, injured a person who needed medical treatment and was known to have escaped before on several occasions and killed a chicken and possibly more”.
Within the two months Tizzy must be kept on a lead and muzzle if in public, otherwise it must be kept in a locked and secure environment. Also, it is not allowed to enter Edwardstone.
The court heard the dog had already been moved away from the village and is staying in a secure kennel with a run.
Following the hearing, Spicer, who is undertaking an equine sports therapy course, told this newspaper she wanted to “make every babysitter aware” of the potential caveats of being in charge of a child while there is a pet in the house, as they could be held responsible if a similar incident were to happen.