A postwoman has been left with potentially life-changing injuries after being attacked by a dog as she tried to deliver mail to a rural house outside Boston, a court has heard.
Boston Magistrates Court was told that 47 year old mother of two Sharon Singer was attacked by the female black Doberman as she delivered mail to the home of Julian Palfreyman at Goldfen Bank, Wrangle on the morning of July 4.
Prosecuting, Jim Clare said Mrs Singer had been a postwoman for 19 years and went to the detached house where she had been many times before, to deliver the morning mail.
He said she let herself in through a gate to put a letter into the letter box when she heard barking and then saw a Doberman she had never seen before, barking at her.
He said that as she was afraid it might attack her, she put her hands up in front of her and backed slowly away but without any warning, a second Doberman ‘came from nowhere’ and attacked her.
Mr Clare said Mrs Stringer was bitten severely on the left forearm and she screamed out in pain and for help, but was then bitten on the arms, legs and hands.
He said that in a ‘few seconds’ the owner, Mr Palfreyman, came into view and shouted at the dogs.
He said he grabbed the dog, called Mezzie, that was attacking Mrs Singer but it broke free and again attacked her, biting her on the lower back and bottom, until she finally got out of the gate and into her van.
He said she was bleeding and in a lot of pain and Palfreyman then took her to the Accident and Emergency Department at Boston Pilgrim Hospital, where she spent four days.
Mr Clare said Mrs Singer had large open wounds to her left forearm, cuts to her hand and fingers and an open wound on her right arm.
He said she had a total of 19 wounds which needed 45 stitches and that five weeks later she still had difficulty sleeping, was still in pain and was suffering from muscle wasting.
He said she was that day undergoing an operation in London to try and repair the damage to the nerves in her hand and there was no timescale for a return to work, as she had no feeling in her hand and was unable to drive.
Mr Clare asked the magistrates to order the immediate destruction of the dog which Palfreyman accepted was dangerously out of control although he told police it had never shown any aggression previously.
In mitigation, Andrew Wheldon said Palfreyman did not minimise the seriousness of what had happened but the incident ‘could not have been foreseen’.
He said he had only moved into the house the day before and it was securely fenced.
Palfreyman had let the dogs out while he made a cup of tea and ran outside when he heard the screaming.
Mr Wheldon said the police had seized both dogs but had released back to Palfreyman the one that was not involved in the attack.
He said there was now increased security at the house with double gates, and anyone visiting had to ring a bell to obtain access through an electric gate that could only be opened from the inside.
The postbox was now outside the property, he told the magistrates and asked the not to order the immediate destruction of the dog.
He said Palfreyman had had dogs all his adult life and had owned Mezzie since it was a pup.
The incident had changed his life, he told the court, because of worry for Mrs Singer and the incident had triggered his split from his wife.
The magistrates told Palfreyman it was a ‘very serious matter’ and that Mrs Singer had suffered ‘horrendous injuries’ for which they gave their sympathies.
However, they said that because of the steps he had taken at his house, they would not order immediate destruction of the dog but would issue a contingent destruction order which effectively acts as a kind of ‘suspended sentence’ on the dog.
They ordered Palfreymen to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work for the community and to pay £1,000 compensation to Mrs Singer and court costs of £85.