Woman sentenced after drowning dog tied to rock in Nottinghamshire

Woman sentenced after drowning dog tied to rock in Nottinghamshire

A woman who “failed to act” when her pet dog was thrown into a river with a heavy rock tied around its neck has been given a community order.

German shepherd-type dog Bella is now “doing well” after being saved from the Trent in Nottinghamshire a year ago.

A court heard Charlene Latham pleaded with her ex-partner Leigh Johnson not to drown Bella, but he refused and she did not get help.

Latham was sentenced but the charge against Mr Johnson was dropped.

Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard Latham had previously pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal near Long Lane, Farndon.

Mr Johnson, 33, who was charged with the same offence, denied the accusation, and the court was told the case against him was dropped as the RSPCA said it did not have enough evidence.

The court heard Latham, 32, of Bentinck Close, Ollerton, drove Mr Johnson and Bella down to the river on 6 January 2020, but did not know of his intentions, and she “pleaded with him” not to do it.

A plastic bag containing a rock weighing 34.7kg (77lb) was tied to a lead around Bella’s neck, magistrates heard.

Dog walker Jane Harper was walking her own pets when she spotted the animal.

She told the BBC Bella had managed to rest her head on a rock to breathe while the rest of her body was submerged in the water.

Mrs Harper, who with friends pulled 11-year-old Bella from the water, said: “I honestly don’t know how she survived. She was just a dead weight. She was in a terrible state.

“I was trying to talk to her and lift her out, but she wasn’t responding. It was a real struggle and we had to call others to get her out because of the weight.”

Latham lied to the police about what happened to Bella, the court heard, after being put “under pressure” from Mr Johnson who was “aggressive and controlling”, but she later admitted her involvement and pleaded guilty to the charge.

Luc Chignell, defending Latham, said: “The person who committed this is not here and that is not her fault.”

Latham has since suffered “relentless abuse” on social media, which led to police advising her to leave her home, the court heard.

Magistrates were told she was now living in Devon.

Mr Chignell said: “There is a big difference between failing to act and doing it yourself.

“She was five months’ pregnant at the time and would not have been able to throw a rock into the river.

“It was not her intention to harm Bella…. she did not stand up for the dog as she should have.”

Harry Bowyer, prosecuting, said: “This is someone who left that dog in the river and did not seek any attempt to get help, and lied to the police when they came round the next morning.”

A vet who examined Bella said had she not been treated when she was, she would have died.

Ella Carpenter, manager at the Radcliffe Animal Centre, said they were now keen to find Bella a new home, which needed to be near the centre due to her complex needs.

Latham was given a 12-month community order and told to pay an £80 fine, £32 victim surcharge, and £200 in costs.

She was also banned from keeping dogs for three years.

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