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Reading Crown Court: Thatcham woman's dog attack horror

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A woman was so badly savaged in a dog attack that her wounds went down almost to the bone, a court heard.

The German shepherd then shook the screaming victim like a rag doll after tearing open her arm.

Court (45996723)
Court (45996723)

But, after hearing all the evidence, a jury cleared a Thatcham man of being in control of a dangerous animal.

Twenty-three-year-old George Matthew Cripps had denied the single charge in relation to the incident off London Road, Thatcham, on December 12, 2018.

Victim Annika Norris told jurors at Reading Crown Court she had seen the dog loose in the street when it attacked her without warning.

She said the animal jumped up towards her throat and she flung her arm up to protect herself.

The German shepherd grabbed her arm and sank its teeth so deep that they penetrated skin and fat, into the muscle and almost to the bone.

Ms Norris was then shaken by the animal for up to 20 seconds as she rolled on the ground and it continued to bite her in a sustained and savage attack.

She later needed hospital treatment for serious, deep puncture wounds to her arm and shoulder.

Witnesses said that when Mr Cripps, of Bourne Road, suddenly arrived on the scene carrying a lead and shouted to the dog: “F****** come here” it immediately became docile and obeyed.

Nick Saunders, prosecuting, said Mr Cripps had then become emotional and pleaded with Ms Norris not to call police.

A friend of Ms Norris, Kirsty Dicks, told jurors she heard Mr Cripps refer to the animal as “my dog” before leaving the scene with it.

But giving evidence, Mr Cripps had insisted he had told witnesses he didn’t care if they called police because “it’s not my dog” and that he had merely been trying to help.

He said he had a lead with him because he owned a German shepherd himself, named Butch, and had released the offending animal after it became reluctant to follow him any further.

It was Butch, the defence claimed, that witnesses had previously seen him with and not the same animal as the one that attacked Ms Norris.

Police DNA testing, using saliva from Ms Norris’ wounds, failed to find any trace of the attack dog at Mr Cripps’ home, the court heard, and the animal had never been found.

Sasha Queffurus, defending, suggested none of the prosecution witnesses were lying, but that they had misheard her client and then and misinterpreted his motivation.

After retiring to consider their verdict following the three-day trial, jurors took just one hour and 38 minutes to acquit Mr Cripps of the charge on Wednesday, March 31.

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