24th Aug, 2019

Coventry woman whose bulldog savaged young girl in street defies court and avoids jail

A WOMAN from Coventry evaded justice for three years after repeatedly ignoring a court order imposed after her powerful American Bulldog had savaged a young girl in the street.

But despite doing just one of the 180 hours of unpaid work she had been ordered to do and then failing to attend court for breaching the order, Laura Gillies has escaped being jailed.

The 40-year-old, of Broad Park Road, had pleaded guilty in November 2015 to being in charge of a dog which caused injury while dangerously out of control.

And at that time she was given a 12-month community order with unpaid work after a judge at Warwick Crown Court said he was ‘just persuaded’ a custodial sentence was not necessary.

The court had heard that in April 2015 a ten-year-old girl was playing on a grassed area near Gillies’ home at the time in Watcombe Road, Wood End, when Gillies’ American Bulldog named Boy got out of the house.

The dog, which Gillies never took for walks, ran at the girl and bit her to various parts of her body, seriously injuring her, before she was able to run to a nearby house.

She had suffered serious bites to her ear and to both arms, including two to her forearms which penetrated down to the muscle, and had to have a number of stitches to the wounds which will leave her scarred for life.

But following that hearing, Gillies breached the order almost immediately by repeatedly failing to turn up to carry out any unpaid work after attending a one-hour induction session.

She should have appeared at the court in September 2016 over her breach, and when she failed to attend a warrant was issued for her arrest – but was not executed until recently.

Prosecutor Sarah Allen told the court: “Steps were taken to try to get her to engage with the order, and she was given a number of opportunities to re-engage, but failed to do so.”

Ian Speed, defending, said in 2015 Gillies had had problems which led her to turn to drink, including the destruction of Boy and her two youngest children being taken into care, and she had ended up in hospital because of drink-related conditions.

But Recorder Martin Butterworth observed: “She was responsible for the destruction of the dog, because she didn’t keep it under proper control. It was her fault.”

Gillies was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 15 months, and was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and to take part in a rehabilitation activity for up to 90 days.

Recorder Butterworth told her: “You have done nothing to comply with the order the judge made. If he had known then what you were going to do with his sentence, he would have simply sent you straight to prison.

“I have grave doubts whether giving you another chance is going to do anything other than set you up to fail. There are many factors which suggest I don’t suspend the sentence. This really is the last time you get a chance.”

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