A DEAF woman whose Staffordshire bull terriers tried to tear a neighbour’s cat in two before one of them savaged the terrified pet owner has been allowed to keep dogs in the future.

Gemma Hearne, from Newport, was handed a suspended jail sentence and had Molly and Storm taken away from her following a hearing at Cardiff Crown Court.

The dogs were passed over to the care of Gwent Police who will look to find them a new home through the help of an animal shelter.


The 38-year-old defendant’s next-door neighbour Linda Hicks feared she would die after the older dog Molly sank her teeth into her as she went to the aid of her cat.

Prosecutor Suzanne Payne said the victim thought she might have bled to death had three other neighbours, Tony Bond, Dan Mallett and Paul Ashman, not come to her aid.

Molly and puppy Storm got through a hole in a fence between the two properties in Rogerstone last summer.

Mrs Payne said: “Miss Hicks was in her kitchen at 4.30pm when she heard her cat screaming and could hear growling.

“She could see both her neighbour’s dogs attacking her eight-year-old cat. One of them had hold of her by the head and neck and the other held her by the tail.

South Wales Argus:

Gemma Hearne. Picture: Facebook

“They were trying to pull the cat apart. Miss Hicks managed to get hold of the cat and lifted it up.

“Molly, the older dog, jumped up and bit her on her left arm. She was chewing on her arm and hanging on to it with all four feet off the ground.

“Storm was trying to reach the cat in Miss Hicks’ arms. She was so scared, she thought she was going to die and screamed for help.”

Mrs Payne told how her three neighbours came to her rescue. Mr Bond tried to break Molly’s grip by using a pole, but without success.

She added: “Dan Mallett grabbed a screwdriver and stabbed the dog with it in the gums which had the desired effect and it let go.”

An earlier court hearing was told that “blood was spurting everywhere”.

Miss Hicks was taken to Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital in an ambulance where she needed surgery to wash out and clean her wounds.

The prosecutor said: “She had suffered deep puncture wounds and the muscle was visible.”

Mrs Payne read out Miss Hicks’ victim impact statement to the court in which she stated: “I felt compelled to rescue my cat. I wasn’t expecting things to go further and one of the dogs to attack me.

“One of them latched on to my arm. I was screaming for help. I felt my life was in serious threat.

“If no one had come to rescue me, I felt I could have bled to death. I was crying and screaming in pain.”

Hearne, of at Keene Avenue, pleaded guilty to two counts of being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control on July 21, 2019.

The court was told that the defendant was heavily pregnant at the time of the offences and now looks after her five-month-old baby.

She had described Molly and Storm to the police as “loveable dogs who liked people and children”.

Karl Williams, mitigating, said: “There was a hole in the fence and the defendant had pressed the local authority for it to be fixed.

“There is now a strong fence in place which is the new boundary of the property.”

Judge Richard Williams told Hearne: “There was no evidence that your dogs were aggressive before this incident but they attacked your neighbour’s cat.

“When Miss Hicks rescued her pet, Molly reacted by sinking her teeth into her forearm, causing significant injury and her neighbours had to resort to the use of weapons to help her.”

He jailed Hearne for eight months, suspended for six months.

The judge warned her: “Your duty is to stay out of trouble and not commit any further offence in the next six months. If you do, expect to serve that eight months.”

Hearn, who receives benefits, was ordered to pay £1,062 in compensation to Miss Hicks to settle her vet’s bill.

The judge passed a contingency destruction order on both animals with the conditions that they not be put down as long as Molly wears a box muzzle and they are kept on a fixed leash in public.

He added: “Provided these conditions are kept, neither dog shall be destroyed.”