The Exmouth and East Exeter candidate for Reform UK has addressed “attacks made on social media” about him regarding his fine for animal abuse.

Garry Sutherland was fined £2,000 and banned from owning a dog for a period of two years on August 3, 2023 after he was sentenced at Weymouth Magistrates' Court.

This followed an incident on June 22, 2022, when Mr Sutherland reportedly kicked a dog in Chideock, West Dorset.

Mr Sutherland addressed the incident at a Question Time style hustings event Tuesday (June 18), saying he acted to defend his family.

In his opening statement, Mr Sutherland said: "I want to start off by clearing something up, as I am getting attacks on social media about an incident I was involved with. I want to give my side of the story that day, and I hope no one in this room has to go through this.

"I was out with my wife and family dog and my nine-year-old twin boys. My dog was the subject of an unprovoked attack and was bitten by an out-of-control dog whose owner had his lead around his shoulders.

"Now, I hope no one has to witness their wife screaming out for somebody to intervene and help while the owner did nothing. I had to make a decision to jump in front of my wife or children to protect them."

Other candidates in the constituency include Paul Arnott (Liberal Democrats) Helen Dallimore (Labour), Olly Davey (Green Party) David Reed (Conservative Party) and Dan Wilson (Independent).

The court heard that Sutherland, of Harcombe, caused unnecessary suffering to a dog by kicking it in Langdon Lane, Chideock.

In November, Sutherland pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

He was found guilty of the charge after a trial at Weymouth Magistrates' Court on June 27, 2023.

He was sentenced at the same court on Thursday, August 3.

The court heard how Sutherland kicked the dog in the west Dorset village last summer, contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

He has been told to pay £1,200 compensation, costs of £650 to the Crown Prosecution Service as well as a victim surcharge payment of £114 - totalling £1,964.

Sutherland has been banned from owning a dog for a period of two years. The 61-year-old has also been ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months.