Royal Mail Private Prosecution Success – Owner Fined £1080 (Inc. Costs) After Dog Attack on Postman in Llanllwch (SA31 – Swansea Postcode Area):
To: All Branches
Dog owner Michael Gardiner appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court on 31 March to face a private prosecution brought by Royal Mail for an offence under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (As amended in 2014).
The Court was told that a Carmarthen Delivery Office based Postman needed five weeks off work after being attacked and bitten by a customer’s Weimeraner dog whilst he was on his delivery round.
The Postman was delivering mail to a property in Llanllwch, a small hamlet in Wales approximately two miles west of Carmarthen and 29 miles from Swansea, when ‘Travis’ the householder’s Weimeraner dog pounced on him. The Postman tried to fend off the dog and retreat but he was bitten and injured.
Following an investigation by the Dyfed-Powys Police Force, the Police decided not to prosecute the owner Michael Gardiner over the incident after he agreed voluntarily to muzzle the dog and keep the dog on a lead in public.
However, both the CWU and Royal Mail believed this was a totally insufficient course of action to deal with the problem and ongoing risk to Postmen and Women delivering to the property concerned and generally in the locality and elsewhere. It also sent out the totally wrong message to irresponsible Dog owners. Royal Mail therefore took the decision to take the matter to court via a private prosecution which resulted in the conviction of the owner.
The CWU Health, Safety and Environment Department welcomed Royal Mail’s course of action which is in line with the policy agreed between Royal Mail Group and the CWU National Health, Safety and Environment Officer.
Additionally, the Union has lodged a complaint with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) regarding the lack of action by the Dyfed-Powys Police Force in this case.
At Llanelli Magistrates Court, the Prosecutor for Royal Mail Mr Rhys Thomas told the court that “The incident happened on November 24 last year at Mr Michael Gardiner’s property in Llanllwch”. He added that; “This is no reflection on Mr Gardiner but this case is in the public interest because it is an issue for postmen and women. The message needs to go out to dog owners that people can’t allow their dogs to cause injury to postmen and women going about their duty.” He explained to the court that; “On the day in question the Postman had gone to the back door of the property to deliver a parcel. Mr Gardiner opened the door and walked out to greet the postman and collect the parcel from him. It was then that the Weimeraner dog, ran out of the house from behind Mr Gardiner, attacking the Postman and biting his left forearm as he tried without success to fend off the large dog. Mr Gardiner was shouting for the dog to come away and he eventually restrained the animal and immediately apologised to the Postman, offering him a hot drink and bandaging the wound. The Postman was subsequently treated at hospital for the bite puncture wounds and was given medication, following which he was off work for five weeks, along with follow up care.”
Mr Gardiner’s defence solicitor Mr David Williams said; “Mr Gardiner was very concerned at the attack and offered to take the injured postman to hospital. He also visited the sorting office in Carmarthen to speak to the Postman’s Managers and offered to put the dog down. However the postman did not want the dog destroyed and arrangements were made to fix a Post Box at the bottom of the driveway on the exterior of the property.” He added; Mr Gardiner and his wife had owned dogs for many years and Travis is the third Weimeraner they have had. He is an old dog of ten years and has no previous history of violence. This was an isolated incident.”
Retired Policeman, Michael Gardiner, aged 67, pleaded guilty to one count of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control. The Magistrates fined him £300 for the offence, along with £750 court costs and £30 victim surcharge. Mr Gardiner’s son is a current serving Police Officer!
Separately from the Criminal case, the Union Solicitors are pursuing a Civil action personal injury damages compensation claim on behalf of the CWU member and a payment will be made separately to the victim via an ‘out of court’ settlement from the Dog Owner’s Insurers.
The Weimaraner is a large, grey coloured dog, that was originally bred for hunting large game such as boar, bear, and deer in the early 19th century. They can grow to around 2.5 ft. tall and weigh over 6 Stones. However, as with any breed of dog, they can be no problem if their welfare is taken good care of, they are socialised, trained and controlled responsibly by a good owner.
The RMG commissioned 2012 ‘Langley Report’, adopted by RMG in full, recommended RMG should give full backing to postal worker dog attack victims by firstly taking a more robust approach to the suspension of deliveries where dogs pose a danger to our postmen and women and secondly that RMG establishes a process where attacks on RMG workers are more likely to be the subject of legal action by actively pursuing dog owners whose dogs attack postmen and women and Parcelforce workers via private prosecution in cases where Police prosecutions are not progressed. Subsequently, Royal Mail in consultation with the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department developed a procedure to respond better to incidents involving the risk of dog attacks and the pursuance of legal action where necessary against Dog owners.
The Health, Safety & Environment Department along with the Royal Mail Safety, Health and Environment Team hope this case and the series of successful police and private prosecutions that have preceded it, since the Dangerous Dogs Act law changes were achieved by the CWU ‘Bite-Back’ campaign, will act as a reminder to all members to report all dog attack incidents and near misses as there are still too many incidents that members don’t bother to report.
Would all CWU Area Safety Reps, Branches and IR Reps urge any member who is the victim of a Dog Attack to support the policy of reporting the incident to their manager and to the Police and Local Council Dog Warden and reassure them that the business will support them through every step of the process. Also, if there are any near misses these need to be reported as well as it helps Royal Mail record the Dog and the risk to other colleagues as well as helping the Police and Dog Wardens to build up a picture of Anti-Social Behaviour and take proactive steps before an actual attack.
The agreed Royal Mail policy is that they will not tolerate any sort of Dog Attack on our Postmen, Postwomen and Parcelforce delivery staff and Royal Mail will take action against anyone who fails to control their Animals, resulting in attacks and injuries.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
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Attachment 1 – LTB216/17 Royal Mail Private Prosecution Success – Owner Fined £1080