A PENSIONER has been told she came “within a smidgen” of her dog being destroyed after being caught with it dangerously of out control for a third time.

Last year, Beryl Harvey was ordered to keep Border Collie Marley on a lead and muzzled at all times they were in public after the pet left another dog walker with scratches and bruising.

But, Harvey, 79, was back in court yesterday after letting Marley run free unmuzzled on two occasions in December and January.

On the first occasion, Susan Goldsmith was with her pet in the designated dog walking area of King George’s Playing Fields in Wivenhoe when Marley approached.

The court heard the other dog took up a submissive position and Marley put his paw on his back, was snarling and foaming at the mouth before running away.

Ms Goldsmith said she became “hysterical” and tried to tell Harvey to put the dog on the lead but she didn’t.

In January, Fiona O-Brien-Smith - who was also the complainant in the original offence - saw Marley while walking three dogs on the Wivenhoe Trail.

He was not muzzled nor on a lead, had his heckles up and began “commando crawling” towards them.

Fearing what he may do, Ms O’Brien-Smith called for Harvey to put him on a lead and tried to record the incident but was too shaken to grab her phone.

Harvey claimed she thought she had permission to let Marley run free in a certain area of the playing fields.

She said he had been muzzled and on a retractable lead on the trail and was not aggressive in either incident.

Gavin Burrell, defending, said the dog’s behaviour was not dangerous but could be classed as “social interaction”.

But the bench at Colchester Magistrates’ Court rejected their argument convicting her of two counts of being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control.

Harvey, of Park Road, Wivenhoe, hit the headlines last year when she was arrested and forced to spend a night in the cells after a series of admin errors meant she did not get a postal requisition to appear at court.

She was given a conditional discharge for that offence which was resentenced along with the two fresh incidents at court on Monday.

Chairman of the bench Don Wickes warned her another incident would see Marley taken away.

He said: “You have come within a smidgen of this dog being destroyed.

“We seriously considered it but will not order it on this occasion but if you find yourself back here then it will be invoke, probably for sure.”

The dog now must remain muzzled and on a fixed lead of no longer than 1.5 metres when in public.

Harvey was fined £884, ordered to pay £620 costs, a victim surcharge of £84 and £50 each in compensation to the two complainants.