December 2018

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Published on 4 December 2018

Councils welcome court fine for man who breached dog byelaw

Magistrates' decision to fine a man whose dog killed a black swan in Dawlish has been welcomed by Teignbridge District Council and Dawlish Town Council.

Teignbridge District Council prosecuted Ross Norman for breaching a dog byelaw. The prosecution related to an incident on 8 April 2018 when a dog he was in charge of was not on a lead on The Lawn when it should have been, and attacked and killed a swan.

South Devon Magistrates, sitting in Newton Abbot on Monday 3 December, ordered the defendant to pay the maximum penalty of £500 plus a victim surcharge of £50 and awarded the council full costs of £471.81.

Cllr Sylvia Russell, Teignbridge District Council’s Executive member for Health and Wellbeing which includes Environmental Health, said:

“We welcome the court’s decision to impose the maximum penalty. This was a very distressing incident for the many people who witnessed it. It was one that was wholly unnecessary and avoidable had the dog had been kept on a lead. These laws exist to protect some of our most treasured open spaces, allow people to enjoy them and keep nuisances to a minimum.

“Breaching a byelaw is a criminal offence and one we take seriously and we will continue to prosecute offenders when we have reliable evidence. We hope this sends a clear, strong message to the small minority thinking about flouting the law.”

Dawlish Town Council reported the incident to Teignbridge and the police, provided information for the prosecution including footage from their own CCTV system.

The prosecution has been welcomed by local ward members and Dawlish Town Council.

Cllr Lisa Mayne, Teignbridge District Council’s ward member for Dawlish Central and North East, said:

“This has been such an unsettling incident for the people of Dawlish I would like to thank everyone involved in the successful prosecution. The fact that the court imposed the highest fine possible just shows how seriously this case was taken.”

Andrew McKenzie, Dawlish Town Council’s Town Clerk, said:

“As custodians of the nationally and internationally renowned waterfowl, including the famous Black Swans, Dawlish Town Council is delighted with the court result which underscores how seriously it seeks to protect the animals for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.

“The byelaws covering The Lawn enable dog walkers to enjoy the open space and river walks with dogs on leads whilst simultaneously helping to protect the birds from dog attacks.

"Hopefully this successful prosecution will serve as a deterrent and help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”

Teignbridge and Dawlish Town Council jointly thanked witnesses and Devon and Cornwall Police for their help in bringing about this successful prosecution.

Byelaws are local laws made by a local authority and can cover a variety of issues. Byelaws are enforced by the local authority through the magistrates’ court and contravening a byelaw can result in a fine upon successful conviction.

Teignbridge has a number of byelaws in place including one in respect of dogs in pleasure grounds which covers The Lawn, Dawlish, Dawlish Warren, The Den, Teignmouth and Teignmouth Promenade. It aims to keep them as peaceful and clean places of enjoyment and states that dogs in these areas must be kept on a lead.

People can report any byelaw breaches to them by visiting www.teignbridge.gov.uk/reportit. Teignbridge operates a freephone number for reporting environmental crime and welcome calls on 0800 328 6402.