OAP, 78, church volunteer put on nationwide wanted list and thrown in cells after her Labrador Marley nipped a stranger

Gran Beryl Harvey, 78, was reported to police but missed court dates after authorities sent notice letters to a home that shared her street name – in the wrong town.

The church volunteer's case was then quickly escalated, with police showing up at her home and arresting her on October 9.


Marley had nipped dog-walker Fiona O'Brien-Smith while he was playing with another dog on a walk in playing fields, near Beryl’s home, in Wivenhoe, Essex, on March 14.

Police interviewed Beryl within weeks but took no action for seven months – with the court told later letters had been sent to the wrong address.

After finally receiving a letter, worried Beryl had contacted police but was told the officer dealing with the case was not on shift.

Police instead arrived at her home in Wivenhoe, Essex, taking her to Colchester Police station where she spent the night.


The gran-of-five, who suffers from epilepsy and high blood pressure, said: "They took me into custody and took everything from me – bracelet, jewellery, watch, and all of my medication.

“The cells are bleak, I don’t recommend it. I should think it was the worst night’s sleep of my life."

After the night in the cells, Beryl appeared at Colchester Magistrates Court where she admitted being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control.

But she said she had been left "frustrated" over what had happened.

She said: "The police will just say they are doing their job.

"They weren’t ever deliberately rude or unkind, it is just as my solicitor said to the magistrates court it is a very unfortunate set of circumstances, one after another.

"It was just error after error with ghastly jail cell food in-between.

"This is all for a scratch on someone’s leg."


Matthew Swash, mitigating, said Mrs Harvey, who also suffers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, had been left emotionally scarred.

He said: “The events have left a scar. She has been in the police station since 6.30pm yesterday, freezing cold, very upset and bewildered at what has happened.

“She has had the dog from a rescue home for five or six years and it has never been a problem before. “

On this occasion her dog was not trying to bite the victim – it was just trying to snip at another dog who had wrapped its lead around the woman who was walkin it.

“The dog moved and we are left with the bite and the scratch.

“Six months go by and she ends up in this situation and the last 24 hours are not going to leave her.”

Beryl was handed her a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £50 compensation.

No order to destroy Marley was made.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: "Mrs Harvey was interviewed in April and attended the police station in July in connection with the investigation.

"A postal requisition was sent in August informing Miss Harvey she had been charged with being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury and to attend Colchester Magistrates Court on October 2.

"When she failed to attend the hearing, the court issued a warrant for her arrest and a letter was sent to Miss Harvey informing her of this.

"She was arrested according to the terms of the warrant and placed before the next available court. When the courts issue a warrant, these cannot be revoked without their authority.

"The letters were sent to the address we had on our records. If Miss Harvey is unhappy with how the matter has been dealt with, she can contact us and we will look into her concerns."



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