Dog named Princess saves her sleeping owner from hitman as two jailed in Hertfordshire

A file image of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier Credit: PA

A dog saved her sleeping owner from a hitman when she let out the “deepest, longest growl” the victim had ever heard.

The woman, who police described as vulnerable, was woken at her home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, when her Staffordshire bull terrier, called Princess, had seen Trefor Jones standing over her.

The court heard Jones, 38, had tried to excuse himself by saying "I wanted to give your dog a kiss."

Jones, 38, from Southsea in Hampshire and Mukhtar Lail, 53, from Stotfold in Bedfordshire, were jailed at St Albans Crown Court having both been convicted of conspiracy to murder.

In a victim statement read out in court, the victim revealed that she "does not go out anymore." Credit: ITV News Anglia

Police said that Jones had been staying at the woman’s address in Hitchin in January 2022 and had been offered £15,000 by Lail to kill her by injecting her with heroin.

Lail also gave Jones detailed instructions on how to render the victim unconscious should she resist.

But the woman, who was asleep on her sofa, was woken by her dog howling and found Jones standing over her.

Lail was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of eight years, while Jones was given eight years in prison.

A third man, Bobby Dhunna, 39, from Offley was also sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment in connection with the case.

In an impact statement read to the court, the victim described the devastating impact the ordeal has had on her.

“I had to leave the place I’d called home all my life," she said.

"I now do not have any friends as I’m too paranoid they might end up setting me up for you to harm me.

"I do not go out anymore and, if I must, I do not like to walk anywhere in case someone else comes to hurt me. I just pray that no one else is following me.

“I fear for my family when they come to visit me, in case you have sent someone to try and hurt them.

“Sometimes I’m so scared it physically hurts and I cry all the time.

“I hope to encourage other females that are too scared to stop this happening to them and I now appreciate every day.”

Detective Superintendent Carl Foster, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “This was a shocking case involving dangerous men targeting a vulnerable victim.

“I’d like to praise the victim for her strength and bravery throughout; she had doubts about reporting anything to police, as she was sure she would not be believed."

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