Cumbria Crack

Man accused of urging dog to ‘go and get’ police tells jury: ‘I didn’t say those words’

Carlisle Crown Court

A man has told a jury he didn’t urge a pet dog to attack police officers at his Egremont home, and also thought they needed a warrant to enter.

Tony Wardle, 51, is on trial at Carlisle Crown Court and denies two charges.

One alleges he assaulted a female police sergeant, Joanne Philip. A second charge alleges that he was in charge of a dog which caused injury whilst dangerously out of control.

Both arise out of an incident at Wardle’s Lamb Court home on August 18 last year, when the sergeant and three PCs went to speak with him about an earlier allegation.

It is alleged Wardle was “confrontational and aggressive”, and that he instructed his pet terrier, Digger, to “go and get them” after officers went inside his property and told him he would be arrested.

But, giving evidence this afternoon, Wardle told a jury he “didn’t say those words”, and instead shouted to the dog: “Get in, Digger.” “To get him out of the way of what was going on,” he explained.

His lawyer, Sean Harkin, asked: “Why did you want him out of the way?”

Wardle responded: “So he couldn’t get harmed or anything.” He added of his arrest, amid chaotic scenes captured on an officer’s body-worn camera: “I didn’t have control of the dog because they had hold of me and I was wrapped up.”

Jurors have heard Wardle’s case is that he believed the officers were trespassing and had no right come inside. “I thought they had to have a warrant to enter my property,” he said, adding: “Maybe I had watched too much TV. I don’t know.”

Under cross-examination, prosecutor Alaric Walmsley suggested to the defendant: “You didn’t believe the police were trespassers.”

But Wardle maintained: “Yes I did.”

The trial continues.