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Edwardstone: Woman, 20, forced to pay more than £350 after dog escaped from house where she was babysitting, attacked a neighbour and killed a cat

12:37 01 August 2014

Georgina Spicer leaving Bury Magistrates

Georgina Spicer leaving Bury Magistrates' Court after been found guilty of not controlling a dog.

A babysitter has appeared in court after a dog deemed to be in her care attacked a neighbour and killed a cat.

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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.

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7 comments

  • If you own an unruly dog surely it's your responsibility to ensure any visitors to your property are safe and as such the owner should have secured the dog in another room or in a crate or run while they were out to protect the babysitter and child at the least then this incident wouldn't have happened. Obviously if this had been a one off incident the owner would have had no way of predicting it but it clearly wasn't the first time it had escaped and injured or killed. In my opinion the owner should be charged with knowingly owning a dangerous dog.

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    MZH

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

  • I don't think anyone on here can make judgements against the dog owner without all the facts. Yes owners should be responsible for their dogs but there is a limit when they are not there. You are also only hearing one side of the story.

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    Country_girl

    Friday, August 1, 2014

  • Unless there's more to this which has not been reported by EADT, these magistrates have made a bizarre decision and should be called to account on several grounds.

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    socrates

    Friday, August 1, 2014

  • A bizarre decision and wholly unfair. I have two dogs and they are absolutely my responsibility regardless of who is looking after them at the time. On another note I wonder why people ever bred Jack Russells. Horrible little things. Both my dogs have been attacked by different JRs lately.

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    Ex-IP17

    Friday, August 1, 2014

  • @Rage, Did you really expect a judge to be reasonable? The owners should be fined for having an out control dog, not this poor girl who was just looking after the child. Also, why is the dog being destroyed AFTER 2 months??? If you're going to do it just get it done now.

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    RC

    Friday, August 1, 2014

  • That seems unfair and disproportionate A dog like that should always be the owners responsibility. "was known to have escaped before on several occasions" was the sitter informed ? The magistrate makes it sounds like its the babysitters responsibility to make sure the garden is secure. What were the grounds for the excessive conditional discharge ?

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    Caliope

    Friday, August 1, 2014

  • An outrageous sentence on the face of it. As they did not allow a change of plea, magistrates should have allowed mitigating circumstances (not her dog, not her property, not engaged to babysit the dog) I hope the dog owners pay the fine on her behalf.

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    Rage

    Friday, August 1, 2014

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