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Dog owner suffers horrific attack as man tries to steal his pet

PUBLISHED: 06:30 09 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:39 09 March 2020

Brett Matthews comforts Toby, his seven-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua cross, who has been left traumatised and Brett injured after a man attacked him and tried to steal Toby. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Brett Matthews comforts Toby, his seven-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua cross, who has been left traumatised and Brett injured after a man attacked him and tried to steal Toby. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

A Norwich man has described the horror of an early morning ordeal that saw him suffer three broken ribs and a head fracture after an attacker jumped out of a van and tried to steal his dog.

Brett Matthews comforts Toby, his seven-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua cross, who has been left traumatised and Brett injured after a man attacked him and tried to steal Toby. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBrett Matthews comforts Toby, his seven-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua cross, who has been left traumatised and Brett injured after a man attacked him and tried to steal Toby. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Brett Matthews takes his faithful four-legged friend Toby for a walk every morning, at exactly the same time and following exactly the same route, close to his Norwich home just off Plumstead Road.

Most of the time these walks pass without incident, but at around 6.30am on Tuesday, March 3, Mr Matthews was the victim of an assault from a man who attacked him from behind on Lionwood Road.

"It wasn't a very pleasant experience," said Mr Matthews, 30. "It started off like any normal walk. I was walking Toby up the road and this white van pulled up behind me.

"Cars and vans pull up all the time so I didn't think anything of it, but the next thing I know my face is in the floor and some bloke is yanking on the dog lead trying to pull it out of my hand."

Brett Matthews comforts Toby, his seven-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua cross, who has been left traumatised and Brett injured after a man attacked him and tried to steal Toby. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBrett Matthews comforts Toby, his seven-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua cross, who has been left traumatised and Brett injured after a man attacked him and tried to steal Toby. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said that he never carries his phone or wallet with him while walking the dog, so had nothing of value that the attacker could take - except for Toby, a seven-year-old Jack Russell terrier and Chihuahua cross who has been part of Mr Matthews' family since he was a puppy.

He described the thought of the attacker getting away with his dog as "heart-wrenching".

Mr Matthews said: "I grabbed the dog, held him under my chest and just wouldn't let go. It just felt like he wasn't stopping hitting me, and I felt myself getting weaker. I couldn't hold the dog much longer, but luckily he stopped before I had to let go.

"I thought he was going to kill me and take my dog - that was what I thought."

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Mr Matthews doesn't know how long the attack went on for - repeated blows to his head meant that "the whole thing was a blur" to him.

Fortunately, before the attacker could get away with Toby, Mr Matthews remembers the man being disturbed and fleeing the scene in his van after a neighbour banged on their window and shouted.

Police have been informed of the attack and are investigating.

As well as a small fracture to the back of his head, Mr Matthews also suffered three broken ribs, which makes it painful for him to move around.

But he knows that the outcome could have been a lot worse.

He said: "I've heard of similar attacks but where people had knives, so I did get quite lucky in the grand scheme of things.

"I'd rather sustain the injuries than lose my dog, and I'd rather it happen to me than some defenceless old lady walking their dog. I'm quite well built so I can sustain a couple of good hits, but if it was a pensioner or something then they could have killed them.

"I'm very, very lucky."

Mr Matthews also said that the trauma of the attack had knocked Toby's confidence.

"He struggles to go out now - he's quite hesitant. I put a lead on him and he's not interested now.

"It's understandable really, bless him. He's only a little thing."

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