Furious neighbours call for 'f***ing idiot' QC to be fined after dog mauled seal but cops REFUSE to take action

A FURIOUS neighbour has branded the Oxford-educated lawyer whose dog mauled Freddie the Seal to death a “f****** idiot” – and said she should receive a fine. 

Rebecca Sabben-Clare, 49, will not face any police action after her dog attacked beloved Freddie near Hammersmith Bridge, West London on Sunday. 



Shocking pictures showed the cross-bred latched on to the seal’s flipper as walkers and cyclists, including a vet, rushed to his aid on the banks of the River Thames. 

Freddie the seal, named after Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, was put down on Monday a day after the lunchtime attack.

Ms Sabben-Clare, who tried to pull her dog away from Freddie, today issued an “unreserved apology” for the attack – and said she was “heartbroken” after the “terrible accident”.

She added that she regretted not having placed the dog on the lead prior to the vicious attack. 

Both the RSPCA and the Metropolitan Police this afternoon confirmed no action would be taken against the top QC. 

But one furious neighbour, who said they did not know Ms Sabben-Clare, told The Sun she should have been fined after the incident. 

'NOT WORTH THE RISK'

The neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “The only thing I would say is that she’s a f****** idiot to be taking dogs out not on a lead around places like that. 

“It’s not worth the risk, so if she was I think the should probably get fined. 

“Everybody feels sorry for the seal. I suspect she was probably being stupid for an intelligent, a clearly intelligent woman.”

Meanwhile, a Met Police spokesperson said the owner of the dog had been spoken to about the incident – and no further action would be taken.

They told The Sun Online: "Following the investigation there will be no further criminal investigation or action taken by police in regards to this matter.

"The owner of the dog has been informed."

It came after Ms Sabben-Clare this afternoon issued a full apology for the incident.

She told the Evening Standard: “As an animal lover, I fully understand the dismay that has been expressed. I apologise unreservedly for what happened.

“In hindsight I wish, of course, that the dog had been on a lead but at the time that did not seem necessary.

“I am hugely grateful to all those who helped at the scene. They were heroic. 

“I left for my own safety and that of my dog, believing that there was nothing that I could do to help as the seal was being looked after by a vet and help had been called. I offered my contact details to the vet before leaving.”

Ms Sabben-Clare said she has made a donation to the Wildlife Hospital which treated the seal, and praised them for their "wonderful" work.

Her apology comes after the RSCPA said today it can only investigate offences under the Animal Welfare Act, which involves cruelty to animals. 

They stressed the police must investigate offences involving dangerous dogs. 

The RSPCA said: “We are deeply saddened by what happened to Freddie and this highlights why it is important to keep dogs on leads around wild animals.

“We investigate animal welfare offences. Dog attacks on animals would become an animal welfare offence if it was done deliberately. 

I am heartbroken by this terrible accident

“If no offences have been committed under the Animal Welfare Act we are unable to take incidents further. Offences involving dogs out of control are investigated by the police.”

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, told The Sun today that the QC's dog was called Toby and was "not aggressive".

They said: "I don’t think the dog is a cross, it's a breed but I don’t know what breed he is. 

“He’s not an aggressive dog, he hasn't had any history of it and he’s super sweet with our dogs. 

“He’s been super sweet it’s a shame. I think she is a nice person, it could have happened to anybody.”

The owner of a dog who attacks farm animals can be fined up to £1,000, rising to £2,500 if the offence is deliberate. 

Similar fines apply to attacks on wild animals – but offences related to hunting can see penalties of up to £5,000 imposed. 

A dog is considered ‘dangerously out of control’ if it injures someone or there are grounds to fear it will injure someone. 

Freddie earned the affectionate nickname after entertaining walkers on the bank of the Thames for weeks.

The law on dog attacks

It is against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control, and owners could get an unlimited fine or be jailed for up to six months.

  • Owners must not allow their dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place, a private place (such as a garden or neighbour's house) or in the owner's home.
  • A dog is considered seriously out of control if it injures someone or makes them worried that they could be injured.
  • A court may decide a dog is out of control if it attacks someone's animal.

And locals reacted furiously after his killing, with one writing: "#freddietheseal people who own dogs that attack people/wildlife should be banned from owning pets for life, first a dear in Richmond park, now a poor seal in Hammersmith, when will it stop?

"When a child dies? Will they just fine the owner and move on? This needs to be fixed.”

Craig Oliver, David Cameron's former director of communications, wrote: "So sad to hear that the beautiful seal that took up residence near Hammersmith Bridge had to be put down after being savaged by a dog.

"There were signs up asking dog walkers to keep them on leads." 

Ms Sabben-Clare studied at New College Oxford and was named a leading English silk in the 2021 Legal 500 Directory. 

She is now a specialist in commercial law who is described as "incredibly bright" and "very talented".

Ms Sabben-Clare was said to be “distraught and distressed” as she attempted to pull her dog away from the seal during the attack, The Times reports.

A witness added: “I think she was very upset. She was trying to pull the dog off but this dog wasn’t letting go."

Another neighbour told The Sun today that the QC's dog was called Toby, adding: "I don’t think the dog is a cross, it's a breed but I don’t know what breed he is. 

“He’s not an aggressive dog, he hasn't had any history of it and he’s super sweet with our dogs. 

“He’s been super sweet it’s a shame. I think she is a nice person, it could have happened to anybody.”

British Divers Marine Life Rescue said last night: "We are all devastated at the loss of ‘Freddie’ today.

"So many people tried to help him but his injuries were too severe.

"Marine mammal experts were consulted but all ended with the same conclusion, he was put to sleep late this afternoon."

A photographer who was taking pictures of Freddie when the attack happened said it was “vicious”.

Duncan Phillips, 55, told MyLondon: “The dog just wouldn't let go.

"It wouldn't let go despite repeated attempts by members of the public to separate the animals.”

The vet who came to the seal's aid was bitten three times by terrified Freddie while trying to hold him.

A male cyclist was “headbutted” by the seal as he tried to hold him still.


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