Police were forced to pull a boozy Filey woman’s dead dog from under the wheels of her mobility scooter after the pet tragically got trapped, a court heard.
Officers were called to the Pasture Crescent home of disabled Ashley Heaton at 4am on July 29 last year, after the Jack Russell terrier had got “tangled up” under the motorised vehicle.
Last Thursday Scarborough magistrates heard how Heaton had fallen into a drunken stupor after drinking eight cans of lager that night, and that, since then, her life had been “made hell”.
The 48-year-old claimed she had effectively become “housebound” after the community was left appalled by her actions, and that she had become the subject of “extensive gossip” after the Mercury first reported the story last year.
“Filey is a small community, and she’s received a great deal of abuse,” said her solicitor Shaun Greenan, who said her house had been attacked and her scooter had been stopped 10 times by police since then.
Any suspicions they had that she was drunk behind the wheel were proved correct on December 16, when a breath test carried out again in Pasture Crescent found that she was well over the limit.
She was pulled over after police noticed she had difficulty controlling the scooter, and was “incoherent” and “difficult to understand”.
The benefit claimant, who hobbled into the court with the aid of a walking stick, said she had always denied that booze had played any part in her dog’s death.
And Mr Greenan said there was “no suggestion” that drink was a factor in its demise, with a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to the dog dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service prior to the morning hearing.
In mitigation, he said his client had suffered a downturn in fortune over the years.
Once a married, self-employed businesswoman, she had suffered for years from alcohol addiction, having been raised in a home where it was “freely” available. A shattered hip had left her in need of the scooter that killed her dog, in a tragedy she “bitterly regrets”.
“She’s devastated by the loss of her dog,” said Mr Greenan, who added that his client had moved from West Yorkshire to Filey to try to make a fresh start in her life.
Heaton, who remained seated for the entire hearing, looked visibly aghast when a possible jail sentence was mentioned.
However, magistrates followed the sentencing imposed after a similar, previous case.
For two charges of being drunk in charge of the vehicle, which she admitted, she was fined £60, and ordered to pay £170 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.