A leading barrister has criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for bringing legal action against two Eel Pie pensioners after their pet dogs attacked their neighbours.

John Hardy QC, who represented Bruce and Hedda Lyons in court after their smooth collies escaped and bit two neighbours, accused the CPS of only bringing the case to boost prosecution statistics.

Speaking at Richmond Magistrates’ Court on Friday, Mr Hardy said the victims had not wanted to press charges.

He added: “Mr and Mrs Lyons are unblemished in character [and outside court with their] neighbours from Eel Pie Island they have discussed the matter amicably.

“Nobody wants to be here, [but we are] no doubt because it is a statistic and the CPS want to prosecute despite the fact nobody else does.”

The Lyons, of the Aquarius estate, were in court after their five-year old dogs Zac and Bella escaped from their home on June 18, running into a communal area and biting Juliet Cutler and her father Roger.

Despite Mr Hardy’s protests the prosecution maintained Mr and Mrs Lyons should face charges under the Dangerous Dogs Act as their pets had been dangerously out of control in a public place.

Prosecutor Jackie Townsend said: “This is a case where not just one person but two people were injured on the same day.

“Juliet was going to her parent’s house when the dogs bit her on the arm, she went to her father clearly distressed and her father went out looking for the dogs and was himself then bitten.

“It is clearly in the interest of justice to ensure where two people are injured and where there are two dogs on the loose if there is the force of law there to ensure they are removed from the island and the public domain it is enforced.”

The couple, both in their seventies, were found guilty and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and £1,000 in compensation to the victims.

In cases involving dangerous dogs, where injury is caused, the courts have the power to order the destruction of the dogs but Richmond magistrates gave the Lyons’ pets a stay of execution.

Chairwoman of the bench, Sarah Houston, said: “[From now on] the dogs must be wearing a muzzle at all times and accompanied by an adult 18 years or over when in any public place or any common part of Eel Pie island or any communal part of the Aquarius estate.”

A spokeswoman for the CPS said the decision to bring the case did not have anything to do with statistics.

She said: "Every prosecuter will follow the prosecution code based on the evidence presented before us.

"They look at two things - do we have a realistic chance of conviction and is it in the public interest to do so. These are the things we consider when bringing any prosecution."