A PENSIONER was arrested at home and forced to spend a night in the cells after a series of errors and miscommunication meant she had no idea she was due to appear at court.

Beryl Harvey was interviewed several weeks after her dog - a Border Collie named Marley - bit a fellow dog walker in King George's Field, Wivenhoe, in March causing a light scratch and bruising.

She heard no more about the matter until a week ago she received a letter from police saying she had missed her court date and was wanted for arrest.

Unbeknownst to Harvey, she had been scheduled to appear at Colchester Magistrates' Court the week before, but a postal requisition had been sent to a house in Park Road, Colchester, rather than Park Road, Wivenhoe, where she lives.

After finally receiving the letter, Harvey tried to contact the officer in charge of the case but was told they were not back working until Sunday.

She was eventually told the officer would come to her house in the evening to work things out but they never arrived and she was told to hand herself in at Colchester Police Station on Tuesday morning and the matter would resolved

But the message was not conveyed to officers already sent to arrest her and the 78-year-old was taken into custody on Monday night.

When she finally appeared at court she admitted a charge of being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control.

Harvey, has no previous convictions and suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, epilepsy and high blood pressure.

Matthew Swash, mitigating said: "The events have left a scar.

"She has been in the police station since 6.30pm yesterday, freezing cold, very upset and bewildered at what has happened.

"She has had the dog from a rescue home for five or six years and it has never been a problem before.

"On this particular occasion her dog was not trying to bit the victim, it was trying to snip at another dog who had wrapped its lead around the woman walking it.

"The dog moved and we are left with the bite and the scratch.

"Six months go by and she ends up in this situation and the last 24 hours are not going to leave her."

Magistrates handed her a 12-month conditional discharge. She must pay £50 compensation to the victim and a £20 victim surcharge but was spared any costs.