THE children of a leading North East judge are to ask the region’s top police officer to return dogs seized over allegations they were out of control.
The two German Shepherds which share Judge Beatrice Bolton’s home in Northumberland were seized and put into kennels three weeks ago after being accused of attacking three different people in just over a year.
The plea for their return to the family home is made in a letter to Northumbria chief constable Sue Sim by the judge’s son, Henry Woodcock, 21, and foster daughter Nicky Carr-Neal, 23.
They are also asking Mrs Sim to personally examine her force’s handling of recent events involving the dogs, amid claims that police have taken a heavy-handed approach because of Judge Bolton’s lofty position in the justice system.
Mr Woodcock and Miss Carr-Neal say their mother has been left distraught and “torn apart” by the recent furore. They say her health has been affected and her future in the legal profession left uncertain.
In an interview with The Journal, they claimed she has been unfairly pilloried and portrayed as an irresponsible dog owner.
Judge Bolton was arrested by police three weeks ago after her German Shepherd, Georgina, allegedly attacked and bit a 22-year-old man near her Rothbury home. She was already under investigation after a postman claimed he was attacked by a dog near her house in April.
Last December she was convicted at Carlisle Crown Court of failing to control her dog after it attacked her neighbours’ son.
Georgina and another German Shepherd called Winston, who is owned by Miss Carr-Neal, have been taken away by police “to assure public safety”.
Judge Bolton, 57, is not currently sitting at Newcastle Crown Court as she is subject to a separate investigation by the Office for Judicial Complaints following her conviction in December.
Mr Woodcock says the recent events have taken a heavy toll on his mother and the whole family.
He said: “The dogs have been portrayed as these savages when they are just not. They are family pets who are not dangerous and we feel the police have grossly over-reacted. My mother is distraught and this is tearing her apart, and it has had an awful effect on our family.
“She feels there is no-one who is remotely interested in helping her in any way, and feels she has been thrown to the wolves.
“Our family has been broken up because they have got our two dogs in a kennel. We don’t know where they are, how they are or how well they are being looked after. It’s just devastating.
“Georgie has been around babies and has been in the bath with Nicky’s niece. She is the most loving, sweet and kind dog you will ever come across. To have her portrayed as this Hound of the Baskervilles is just disgusting.
“We have written to the chief constable asking her to look at it all objectively and make an informed decision. It seems to us that people are scared to do the right thing because she is a judge, and the police have had to be seen to be taking a firm hand.
“We have also asked her if we can have the dogs back. On the day she was arrested the police arrived with the intention of handcuffing her and putting her in the back of a van until I persuaded them not to.”
Miss Carr-Neal said: “Neither of the dogs have been proven to have bitten anyone. We feel this has been blown out of all proportion.
“I have had Winston for five years. He was a rescue dog and he has never shown any kind of aggressive behaviour.
“Beatrice has been absolutely pilloried over all this but she took me in from an abusive relationship in 2009, gave me a home and welcomed me into her family. Compare all that to how she has been portrayed and there is no comparison.
“People seem to be assuming that she is an irresponsible dog owner but she has had dogs since she was a child and has had German Shepherds for 20 years.”