One man, his dog, and an assault trial

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As an adjudicator on the BBC programme One Man and His Dog, Richard Singleton has a reputation for being objective keeping a cool headin the face of provocation.

But these skills appeared to desert him when he became embroiled in a case of "dog-walk rage" during a stroll along the banks of the river Mersey.

Singleton lost his temper when his champion border collie became involved in a fight with a passing German hunting dog. He vented his rage by hitting its female owner on the bottom with her walking stick.

Singleton, 48, pleaded guilty yesterday to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was ordered to pay £750 for "significant injuries" to the dog's owner plus £300 costs and 100 hours' community service.

The incident took place on 12 August last year while Singleton was walking his dog Sky near Northenden Golf Club, Manchester, where he lives and works. Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard how Irene Carroll, a midwife, was walking her two dogs - a Weimariner, Bexley, and a whippet, Charlie. Although Mrs Carroll put her dogs back on the leash when she saw Singleton approach. Bexley lunged towards the sheepdog and a fight broke out.

Singleton picked up Mrs Carroll's handcrafted walking stick, a family heirloom, and used it to hit Bexley. "The defendant was extremely angry, swearing and making threats," said Lynda Chapman, for the prosecution.While Mrs Carroll was kneeling on the path clutching the whippet, Singleton raised the stick above his head and struck her on the buttocks.

When a man attempted to intervene, Singleton reportedly cried "Britannia muppets!" before flinging the stick into the air and departing. Sharon Amesu, for the defence, said that Singleton reacted angrily because he had invested time and money training Sky to become a champion sheepdog.