UK crown court judge in strife over biting dogs

A Newcastle Crown Court judge was arrested yesterday and her dogs seized after one of them attacked a passerby for the third time in a year.

Judge Beatrice Bolton, 57, was walking in her home town of Rothbury, Northumberland, when one of her two German shepherds bit the leg of a 22-year-old man.

She was arrested and taken to a police station for questioning before being released on bail.

The fate of her pets depends on the investigation’s outcome.

The judge’s job already hangs in the balance after she swore at magistrates when they convicted her for failing to keep bitch Georgina under control last December.

Bolton, on an annual salary of £140,000 ($280,000), had been fined £2500 at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court after the animal attacked her 20-year-old neighbour, Frederick Becker, as he sunbathed.

Bolton stormed out of the courtroom, calling the magistrates’ decision “a f***ing travesty”, before later declaring, “I’ll never set foot in a court again.”

The court heard how the attack was the culmination of a dispute between Bolton and next door neighbours John and Anne Malia, Becker’s parents.

The couple, who described Bolton as a “neighbour from hell”, said they were scared of the dogs and had repeatedly asked her to keep them off their part of the shared garden, which is overlooked by their adjoining homes.

They set up CCTV cameras and documented her dogs’ movements.

Last week, they complained after the judge split the gardens by putting up a fence without planning permission. She will be allowed to keep the fence for two years to allow a hedge to grow.

In April, the Royal Mail suspended deliveries to her home and neighbouring properties after postman Kenneth Auld was bitten. Bolton was investigated and the Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to bring charges.

Despite an apology to bewildered magistrates after last year’s courtroom outburst, Bolton has not sat at Newcastle Crown Court since.

Her future as a judge is in the hands of the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor after her behaviour was referred to the Office for Judicial Complaints.

Last week’s attack came on the same day London’s Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse handed a petition to Prime Minister David Cameron calling for tougher laws on dangerous dogs.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was introduced after a slew of vicious attacks on children by pit bull terriers provoked a public outcry. The act was amended in 2007 to categorise illegal dogs by their behaviour and characteristics, not just their breed.

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