A troubled woman has been jailed for six months after two vicious dogs she was looking after were allowed to roam and attack a young girl and a mother and daughter.
Dehsrena Boyd Ashcroft, 41, of Sydney Street, Chesterfield, had been looking after her former boyfriend’s white bull terrier Lola and her own brown Jack Russell Rolo when the dogs got loose and unleashed two terrifying street attacks.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Thursday, December 15, how a 13-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was bitten by Lola, and Joyce Hursthouse and her disabled daughter Lesley were injured, while their poodle had its neck broken.
District Judge Andrew Davison told Ashcroft: “It gives me no pleasure to impose a custodial sentence on someone who has had such a difficult life as you have had.
“But I cannot ignore the seriousness of these offences so your sentence has to be custody and it has to be immediate custody.”
Prosecuting solicitor John Cooper said the 13-year-old girl had been attacked by Lola at Jago Avenue, Clowne, after the dog had been barking at other dogs behind a gate and had turned on the youngster biting her left hand leaving a 2cm gash.
Mr Cooper added that Lola and Rolo also turned on Joyce and Lesley Hursthouse on Jago Avenue during the same afternoon, on June 2, as they were walking their two poodles including one named Cassie.
He said: “They were out for a walk with their dogs and Lesley Hursthouse is a vulnerable 20-year-old who had previously suffered a serious head injury and has never properly recovered.
“Lesley cannot walk due to her injury and holds on to her mother Joyce Hursthouse.
“The two dogs came running up forcing Lesley Hursthouse to the ground and one of the dogs grabbed their poodle and had her around the neck and as Joyce Hursthouse tried to pull the other dog away the white dog bit her on her ring finger. There was blood and Cassie was bleeding and a passing lady helped separate the dogs. Mrs Hursthouse thought Cassie was dead and another lady arrived and tried to help.”
The court heard how Cassie suffered a broken neck and a broken jaw and Joyce Hursthouse had to have a two rings cut from her hand including a wedding ring. She also needed an injection and had to have her wound dressed.
Mr Cooper added that Joyce Hursthouse described the incident as “the most terrifying experience of my life” and she has suffered flashbacks and she further described the incident as an “unprovoked, vicious dog attack that has been devastating for the family”.
In a statement, Mrs Hursthouse added: “We bought our first dog for the happiness of our daughter Lesley who suffered in a road traffic accident and had a serious head injury and other disabilities.”
She explained they had got a dog as a companion for Lesley and to give her a purpose and Cassie was bought a year later as a second dog.
Ashcroft pleaded guilty to two counts of being in charge of Lola when the dog was dangerously out of control and injured the 13-year-old and Joyce Hursthouse.
She also admitted one count of being the owner of Rolo when the dog was dangerously out of control and injured Lesley Hursthouse.
Defence solicitor Robert Sowter said: “She accepts full responsibility and understands how the victims must feel and she feels devastated about the injuries and implications this has had for them.”
He explained that Ashcroft had been in relationship with the owner of Lola but after they separated she ended up looking after Lola as well as her own dog Rolo.
Mr Sowter added she should have called the RSPCA and she has had sleepless nights with anxiety and depression and has been grieving after the death of her brother.
District Judge Andrew Davison sentenced Ashcroft to six months of custody and ordered her to pay £1,200 in compensation.
He also ordered that both dogs be destroyed but allowed 21 days for anyone to submit an appeal against this decision.