Decade animal ban for Wirral man caught on CCTV ‘violently kicking’ bulldog 

A man who was caught on CCTV inflicting blunt force trauma on a female bulldog has been disqualified from keeping animals for ten years.

Mathew Murray was seen abusing the dog, called Bella, in the garden of a property in Ashfield Crescent in Bromborough on Boxing Day last year, prompting concerned calls to the RSPCA.

The footage showed Murray running towards a fence and kicking out at the brown and tan bulldog with his left leg, before stabilising himself and kicking her again with his other leg, causing her to yelp out in pain.

He was then heard shouting, “get back in,” before forcefully kicking and swearing at her again. Bella is seen running back towards the house and away from Murray before twice crying out again once she’s inside. 

At a sentencing hearing at Wirral Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 23 April, Murray was given an 18-month community order and told to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work after admitting one animal welfare offence following an investigation and prosecution by the RSPCA.    

The court heard how Inspector Anthony Joynes had visited Ashfield Crescent on 29 December after the incident had been reported to the charity.

In a written statement to the court he said, “I attended the location and made enquiries with residents which resulted in me seeing some CCTV footage (video at the end of this article) where a young male with long dark hair, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and black trainers can be heard initially arguing angrily with another person before screaming and shouting angrily that a dog had escaped from the property. 

“The dog appears scared and is seen running away from the male along a fenceline. The man chases after the dog and then proceeds to violently kick the dog forcefully on at least two occasions. The dog can be heard yelping in response and further yelps can be heard shortly after the man re-enters the address after the dog.”

Suspecting that animal welfare offences had been committed, the police were contacted to provide assistance with removing Bella.

Veterinary opinion was also sought, which confirmed that the dog should be removed as she would be likely to suffer if her current circumstances didn’t change.

Inspector Joynes spoke to another person at the house and explained that a vet had provided a certificate stating that Bella should be removed and that she needed to be taken to a vet and placed in RSPCA care whilst an investigation was carried out.

Consent was given for her to be taken for treatment and she was seen at the charity’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital. 

In written evidence to the court the vet who examined her, said, “Bella would have been in pain due to soft tissue injuries from the blunt force trauma of being kicked against the fence. The vocalisation and yelping supports this.

“Furthermore, Murray continually shouts at her throughout which would have caused fear and distress. This is confirmed when she runs away from him. 

“She will have suffered momentarily during the kicking and shouting episodes, however the emotional impact may have a life-long effect. There was no reasonable explanation for these outbursts visible within the video footage. It is likely she will have been in pain for several days after being hit.”

Bella was given pain relief for ongoing hip and spinal conditions which were found on the radiographs and then taken to a private boarding establishment to be cared for on behalf of the RSPCA while the investigation was carried out.

Murray, now of Birkenhead, was interviewed by the RSPCA in early January this year. He said he fully accepted responsibility for what had happened and said he was feeling stressed at the time because it was Boxing Day and he was running late to visit his family. 

He said Bella had urinated in the kitchen prior to him going out and he had lost his temper and kicked her out of anger and that he knew it was wrong and regretted it.

In addition to the ten-year ban, which cannot be contested for five years, Murray was also told to carry out 30 RAR days and pay a victim surcharge of £114.

Bella was signed over to the RSPCA by her owner during the course of the investigation and will now be rehomed.

Speaking after the conclusion of the case Inspector Joynes said, “Bella had run out of the house and into the street, which of course can be stressful and frustrating.

“But the violence, aggression and intimidating behaviour that followed was unacceptable, and this can be seen by Bella’s fearful response and her cries of pain. She is doing great in our care and will be looking for her new home very soon.”

Image: Bella/RSPCA

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