Runner racially abused by dog owner on Royston’s Therfield Heath

PUBLISHED: 08:25 23 November 2017

A man was racially abused on Royston's Therfield Heath. Picture: Harry Hubbard

A man was racially abused on Royston's Therfield Heath. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Archant

A keen runner who regularly trains and enjoys walks on Royston’s Therfield Heath was stunned when, after asking a dog owner to put a lead on their animal, he was met with racist abuse.

The man, who did not want to be named, was enjoying his lunchtime stroll on the heath on Wednesday last week about half a mile from the McDonald’s roundabout when the dog – which he thinks is a bull breed – began running around him.

He told the Crow: “I asked the owner politely to put the dog on the lead so I can walk freely without having to constantly watch the dog running around me.

“It was bigger than a staffie, and had the jaw of a boxer dog. The owner said the dog was lovely, but you don’t know. If it bit you it could snap your leg off, they’re really powerful dogs.

“I don’t have a problem with dogs and I am happy to stop and pat one of it is on the lead, I just wanted the owner to have control of it.”

When the man asked the dog owner a second time, he was met with a torrent of abuse.

He said: “He started hurling abuse at me. It wasn’t confrontational in the physical sense, as we were both walking away at that point, but he said ‘go back to go back your own country’ and threatened to ‘deck’ me.”

The Cambridge man moved to the UK from Poland 13 years ago held British citizenship since 2013.

When the Crow asked if, in his opinion, Brexit has made this type of behaviour more common, he said: “I think for people who are polite and generally nice then it hasn’t made a difference.

“However, people who think this way, but have kept their views to themselves because they’re scared of the backlash, now think they can say whatever they want. It’s sad.”

The self-employed computer scientist fell in love with the heath while completing contract work at Sartorius in Royston and now regularly heads back to the heath.

He said: “I walk and I go running a few times a week it’s one of my favourite areas when I came to work in Royston, it’s lovely.

“I love running on the heath. the hills are good for my training.

“This is the first time something like this has happened to me in Royston, I have had this type of abuse on one other occasion, but that was a road rage incident in Milton, they said the same thing then – ‘go back to my country’.

“I wasn’t scared by the man on the heath, but I am offended by this I didn’t mean to cause any harm, I just asked him to be considerate.

“I think it’s so silly that you can’t enjoy the heath if you are not a dog walker, it should be for everyone.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Between 1pm and 1.15pm at Therfield Heath off Stake Piece Road in Royston, the victim was approached by a dog which he asked the owner to put on a lead.

“The offender then became abusive and made a racist comment before leaving.

Enquiries are on-going at this is stage and anyone with information is asked to call police via 101, quoting crime reference G4/17/1111 or report information online at www.herts.police.uk/report.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will never need to go to court.

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