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Man throws dog walker into Newbury canal

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Court hears how spat between dogs escalated into violence

A man threw a fellow dog-walker into the Kennet and Avon Canal after an argument over their pets.

Mark Daniel Offer, aged 54, of Butson Close, Newbury, admitted to assault on the towpath near Lipscombe Close at West Berkshire Magistrates’ last Thursday.

The court heard how, on October 13, Mr Offer and Hugh Donald were out walking their dogs at around 9.20am. Speaking of the day of the assault, Helen Waite, prosecuting, said that Mr Donald had been walking west along the towpath when he spotted Mr Offer up ahead.

She said: “He maintained a distance as they walked following a previous spat between their respective dogs. Since then Mr Donald had tried to keep his distance and carried on at a slow pace to keep away from [Mr Offer].

“However Mr Offer changed direction and moved towards him. He had three of his terriers with him.”

The court heard that Mr Donald called for his dog to come back, but Mr Offer walked quickly towards him and with an aggressive stance, swore and told Mr Donald that he should have his dog on a lead.

Ms Waite said: “Mr Offer rushed to him and he was struck in the head with the ball thrower that had actually snapped.

“[Mr Donald] described Mr Offer as shoving and pushing him into a thorny hedge. He then pulled him out of the hedge and swung him sideways into the canal.”

As Mr Donald got to his feet, the defendant went on to kick him a number of times in his thighs and, during the assault, he sustained a cut to the top of his head, scratches to his thumb and marks on his thigh.

“He said the whole incident left him somewhat shocked. He said: ‘You don’t imagine being hit and punched when going about your own business’,” said Ms Waite.

Police visited Mr Offer at home following the attack and seized a ball thrower that was believed to have been used in the attack.

At first, Mr Offer denied possessing the ball thrower or grabbing and throwing Mr Donald into the canal and pleaded not guilty. However, in court he admitted his guilt and accepted responsibility for the assault. Defending, Adonis Daniel said that the pair had known each other for the past seven years but the relationship had soured after the dog fight in June last year.

Speaking of the day of the assault he said: “One of the dogs was off his lead and it came towards Mr Offer and his dogs. He said that they stumbled to and fro and then he fell into the river. Clearly it was heat of the moment.

“I suspect if the dog had not have been off his lead and come to [Mr Offer’s] dog it would not have happened. He is the carer for his wife and he was going through a very difficult time and a great deal of stress. He bitterly regrets what has happened. He couldn’t believe he had allowed himself to get into this situation.”

He added that the problem between the two “seemed to have resolved itself” and they had not seen each other since.

After pre-sentencing reports were prepared, magistrates sentenced Mr Offer to a conditional discharge of 18 months and ordered he pay compensation to the victim of £150, costs of £100 and a victim surcharge of £15.

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