Elderly woman injured trying to save cat from dog attack, court hears

The incident occurred in Meadowfield Road, Colburn. Photo: Google.

An elderly woman was injured trying to save her cat from being attacked by dogs, a court heard today.

Lena Pepper, 84, suffered a hand wound as she tried to stop a black whippet-type dog from mauling her pet Bruce, who was killed during the incident outside the pensioner’s home in Colburn.

Today, the dog’s owner Kyle Banks, 29, appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court for sentence after he admitted being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog which caused injury to Mrs Pepper.

Prosecutor Andrew Finlay said the pensioner was sat in her living room when she head a “loud bang” at her front door.

When she went outside to investigate, she saw Banks standing at the bottom of her drive and shouting at his three dogs – a whippet and two greyhounds – which were mauling her cat.

Mrs Pepper shouted at Banks to get his dogs off her pet and stepped down onto the footpath to try to rescue Bruce but was bitten or scratched on her wrist by the whippet.

Mr Finlay said the pensioner was so desperate to save her pet that at first she didn’t feel any pain.

He said that at one point two of the dogs were pulling the cat from either end.

According to Mrs Pepper, it appeared that “all (Banks) was bothered about was his dog and not what happened to her cat”.

Mrs Pepper’s son finally managed to get the dog off his mother and ushered her inside. Banks gave them his address.

Mrs Pepper and her son were then horrified to discover that Bruce was not breathing and had died from his injuries.

It was only then that Mrs Pepper realised she had a cut to her hand and two puncture wounds on her wrist.

Mr Finlay said the “whole incident made her go into shock and she didn’t feel well”.

“She said losing her cat made her feel completely lost,” he added.

“She keeps thinking she can hear him.”

To compound her woes, Mrs Pepper’s wrist injury became infected.

She was admitted to the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, then transferred to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough where she spent two days receiving treatment for the infection.

Banks, who is unemployed, was brought in for questioning and told police he had been visiting a friend just before the incident, which occurred on Meadowfield Road at about 8pm on October 20 last year.

He said he was just about to put a lead on his dogs after leaving his friend’s house when a cat appeared.

In a statement read out in court, animal lover Mrs Pepper said she could still not bear to remove her beloved cat’s food bowl from the kitchen.

She said she felt “really poorly” after the horrific incident and she still wasn’t sleeping properly.

“I just know that my whole being was upset,” she added.

She said it was her doctor who advised her to seek hospital treatment after noticing her badly swollen, discoloured hand. She received intravenous treatment for the infection and was discharged two days later.

She said she was “really lucky” the doctor noticed the infection because “all I was thinking about at the time was losing my Bruce”.

Banks, of Alexander Way, Richmond, had 19 previous convictions for 27 offences including violence, harassment and drug dealing.

In 2016, he was jailed for six months for drug supply. The following year, he received a 21-month jail sentence for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

A police officer’s report noted there was nothing to suggest that Banks’s working dogs were ordinarily of bad temperament and that Banks usually kept them on a lead.

The prosecution didn’t ask for a destruction order outright, only that the whippet be put down if Banks didn’t keep it under control in future.

Defence barrister Rhianydd Clement said that Banks, a father-of-one, had mental-health problems but had turned his life around since being released from his last prison sentence.

Judge Timothy Stead said the incident was so distressing he had decided not to summarise the case.

He added, however, that he was satisfied Banks “very much regrets that it happened at all”.

Banks was given a 12-month community order with up to 25 days’ rehabilitation activity and a 100-day doorstep curfew which prohibits him leaving his home address between 7pm and 7am daily.

He was ordered to pay £250 prosecution costs, but the judge said the loss and hurt caused to Mrs Pepper meant that any compensation he ordered would “almost be seen as insulting”.

Mr Stead said he saw no reason to disqualify Banks from keeping dogs as his record as an owner was previously unblemished, nor did he feel it necessary to make a destruction order in relation to the whippet or take action against any of his dogs.