Couple avoid jail after dog attack left woman needing surgery

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Lee and Natalie Williamson were sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A married couple have avoided jail after their dog attacked a woman and left her needing skin graft surgery to her leg. 

Lee and Natalie Williamson appeared for sentence at Ipswich Crown Court after their cross breed dog, named Evie, launched into a "vicious attack" on a woman in Ridgeville, Carlton Colville on November 24, 2019. 

The victim was visiting relatives in Ridgeville when she noticed a dark blur to her right, Lynne Shirley, prosecuting, told the court. 

The woman felt something bite her calf and she kicked out without much force, the court heard. 

But the dog, which was believed to be a labrador/German shepherd cross, continued to bite the woman's calf. 

The victim, a married mother-of-one, was left with a deep wound on her left calf and a number of other bites to her lower legs, inside leg and buttocks, the court heard. 

The woman collapsed on the ground and her left calf was soaked in blood, Ms Shirley said. 

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The police and ambulance service were called and the victim was given first-aid before being taken to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston. 

She was later taken to the Norwich and Norfolk Hospital and required two operations, including skin graft surgery on her left calf. 

She is still awaiting further surgery in the future, the court heard. 

Natalie Williamson, 32, and Lee Williamson, 37, who were neighbours of the relatives the woman was visiting, pleaded guilty to a single charge of owning a dog dangerously out of control causing injury. 

The couple, who had no previous convictions, are no longer together as a couple, the court heard. 

In a victim personal statement read in court by Ms Shirley, the woman said her life had "drastically changed" as a result of the incident and she had not been pain-free since it happened. 

She said she suffered flashbacks and nightmares and has lost feeling in her left foot and ankle. 

The court heard that Evie had attacked two other people previously, in 2016 and 2018, and Lee and Natalie Williamson were given guidance regarding ownership. 

The dog was signed over to police in December 2019, and has since been put down, the court heard. 

Steven Dyble, representing Natalie Williamson, of Ridgeville, Carlton Colville, said his client had expressed "appropriate remorse for what happened that day". 

Marc Brown, for Lee Williamson, now of Copper Beech, Carlton Colville, said his client has health problems and accepted the incident was "extremely unpleasant". 

Sentencing the pair on Tuesday, Recorder Graham Huston said it was a "very terrifying, violent and vicious attack". 

Speaking of the victim, he added: "She describes her injuries as life-changing and I don't think anyone would disagree with that because they evidently are."

The pair were both sentenced to six months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, and were banned from owning a dog for 15 years. 

They must also pay £150 each towards kennel and destruction costs. 

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