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Maidstone: Sheerness man accused of stealing chihuahua from Tovil Tesco walks free

A suspected dognapper walked free from court last week after telling magistrates he was only trying to help.

Elliott Ashley was accused of stealing a chihuahua from outside Tesco in Tovil.

The 37-year-old father-of-five was shopping at the Farleigh Hill store in April with his girlfriend and two youngest sons when he noticed the pet tied up.

Elliott Ashley leaves court
Elliott Ashley leaves court

Standing trial at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court last Monday he said: “I thought it had been left there, it was absolutely soaking wet and shivering. A man said it had been abandoned.”

When the family finished shopping the seven-year-old dog, named Poppy and belonging to fellow customer Emma Finnigan, was still there and after some convincing from his partner he untied it and put it into his car.

He added: “My girlfriend wanted to do something, but I’m not a really a dog lover to be honest and wasn’t that bothered. She said: ‘we can’t just leave it there, look at the pouring rain,’ so I pulled over and put it on my son’s lap.”

But witness Ronnie Angel said the dog look “terrified” as it was led to the car and he heard it yelp as it was thrown in the back before Mr Ashley sped off.

Poppy the chihuahua
Poppy the chihuahua

Mr Ashley, of Jefferson Road, Sheerness, conceded it was not a wise decision to take the dog without asking in the supermarket if it belonged to a customer, but said the plan was always to return home and advertise it as lost on Facebook before taking it to a kennel.

Instead the family were stopped on Detling Hill by police almost two hours later. Mr Ashley, who lived in Oak Road, Murston, at the time, gave a no comment interview. He told the court: “They acted like we were armed robbers until I explained the situation to them, then they relaxed.”

Nigel Cox, chairman of the bench, said there was not enough evidence to prove Mr Ashley had intended to permanently deprive Miss Finnigan of the dog and returned a not guilty verdict.

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