Owner of Belgian Malinois dog which bit three people including Northern train guard given prison term and pet put to sleep

A woman whose Belgian Malinois dog bit three people – including a Northern train guard – has been given a prison sentence and a destruction order for her pet.

Melissa Thorp appeared at York Crown Court on Friday to be sentenced for injuries her dog Blu caused to two victims and distress to a third.

The bitch attacked a man as he walked through Riverside Park in Settle and bit the Northern employee while he checked Miss Thorp’s ticket as she travelled on a train from Skipton to Settle.

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The third victim was a woman walking to Booths supermarket in Settle, though she did not suffer an injury. The two men both had their skin broken by the dog.

A Belgian Malinois (file photo)A Belgian Malinois (file photo)
A Belgian Malinois (file photo)

Before the separate incidents in June, September and December of 2023, Thorp, 49, had been given a police caution in 2022 when Blu had bitten a child.

The victim attacked in the park was bitten on the thigh and required antibiotics. The train guard was bitten on the shin by Blu, who was under a table.

Thorp, of Settle, admitted being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control in an earlier hearing at Skipton Magistrates Court, but due to the severity of the incidents, her case was sent before a judge for sentencing.

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The Belgian Malinois has been in police kennels since she was charged.

Judge Simon Hickey gave her an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. She must complete 15 days of rehabilitation activity.

A destruction order was issued for Blu and Thorp was banned from having custody of any dog for 10 years, though she does not have to pay the kennel costs.

She was also ordered to pay compensation of £435 to victim Matthew Hill, £200 to Oliver Reilly and £185 to Tessa McMahon.

Belgian Malinois were originally bred as sheepdogs for the herding of livestock. They are often trained as police and sniffer dogs.