Canterbury dad Mathew Bolton strangled his own bull after it went for his throat
by Gerry Warren
A father strangled his bull terrier and dumped its body in
a wheelie bin because he feared it would attack his children.
Mathew Bolton, 25, pinned Nellie to the floor and throttled her
to death at his home in Alfred Close, Canterbury.
He claimed the harrowing 10-minute ordeal was necessary because
the dog had launched a ferocious attack on him and he feared for
his family's safety.
But the RSPCA, which took the case to court, said he had simply
wanted to avoid the cost of putting Nellie down.
Mr Bolton (pictured right) appeared before city magistrates
today - and was cleared of causing unnecessary suffering to the dog
by killing it in an inhumane and inappropriate manner.
Mr Bolton, who has three other dogs and lives on benefits,
admitted killing the terrier when an RSPCA inspector called at his
home last May.
He described himself as "an animal lover" who was forced to kill
the dog in the heat of the moment of the attack.
Mr Bolton told magistrates he had called numerous agencies
- including the RSPCA, city council and police - about
the dog because he was growing worried about its aggressive
behaviour – but all rejected his pleas for help.
He described pinning the bull terrier down with his knees as it
tried to bite his throat.
Mr Bolton said: "I had my hands around her neck and was
kneeling on her chest. I'm not proud of what I did but I had no
other option in the circumstances.
"It was the most unpleasant experience I have ever had in my life, but I would do it again in the same situation..." – Mathew Bolton
"It was the most unpleasant experience I have ever had in my
life, but I would do it again in the same situation."
He said it took about 10 minutes for Nellie to die.
Elizabeth Spence, prosecuting for the RSPCA, questioned why
Mr Bolton had taken the dog in from a neighbour when he knew it to
She also said his "superficial injuries did not indicate he had
suffered a serious attack".
She claimed he had exaggerated the story and believed he had
made a "considered decision" to kill Nellie because of its previous
attacks on his other dogs.
She said: "You chose to take in the dog and you alone were
responsible for it. I say there was no justification for you
She also told magistrates she feared an acquittal would open the
flood gates in similar cases.
Patrick Cuffe, defending, said Mr Bolton had done "his
level best" to get help.
said: "No one can challenge Mr Bolton on what happened on that
"He states the dog had gone for his throat and it was ferocious
and he was frightened for all his family. The law recognises
situations when people find themselves in an emergency."
On passing the verdict, chairman of the bench David Ellerby said
of Mr Bolton: "His account had been consistent and credible and he
had no reason to kill the dog other than that he stated."
Speaking outside the court, Mr Bolton said: "I'm just hugely
relieved and thankful that the magistrates understood the
"I support the terrier breed and it wouldn't put me off having
another one. We tried our best with Nellie but it went horribly
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