A POLICE officer’s dog escaped on Christmas Eve before racing down the road and unleashing an attack on another dog and bit its owner's finger, a court has heard.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, called Gnarler, fled his owner’s garden in Thorpe Road, Kirby Cross, in 2022, before attacking another dog in Mumfords Lane.

When the dog’s owner, Jacqueline Brown, rushed to protect her pet, Gnarler turned his aggression towards her and bit her finger.

Gnarler’s owner, Andrew Watt, appeared in Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday where he admitted being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Seized – the dog was seized by police shortly after the attackSeized – the dog was seized by police shortly after the attack (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

Pretty Barber, prosecuting, told the court Gnarler caused substantial injury by biting Ms Brown’s little finger and that the incident “could easily have been foreseen”.

Gnarler was subsequently seized by police and kept in kennels for three months before being returned to Watt.

Roger Neild, defending, argued Gnarler had never displayed aggressive tendencies before and that Watt had shown deep remorse following the incident.

It was also argued the garden hedge at Watts’s address had grown thinner in the winter months, meaning it was easier for the dog to escape from the garden.

Mr Neild added that Watt, who served in the British Army for 26 years before joining the police five years ago, immediately went out looking for Gnarler when he realised he was missing.

When Watt encountered Gnarler attacking his victim, he pulled the dog off her.

Magistrates were also told that Watt had to be referred to Essex Police for misconduct following the charge. It is now understood the force will adjudicate on the matter in due course.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Foresight – the defence and prosecution disagreed on whether Watt could have foreseen the incidentForesight – the defence and prosecution disagreed on whether Watt could have foreseen the incident (Image: Google Street View)

Mr Neild added: “The dog has never behaved like that before or since.

“The incident could not have reasonably been foreseen by the defendant.”

Chair of the bench Brenda Pearce ordered Watt to pay £2,614.08 in costs and ruled Gnarler does not constitute a danger to public safety.

Gnarler must be muzzled in public, cannot be walked near the victim’s address, cannot be walked by anyone under the age of 18, and must be kept on a lead.