5th Dec, 2016

'Dangerously out of control' dog savaged Coventry schoolgirl

Coventry Editorial 6th Nov, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A POWERFUL American bulldog savaged a 10-year-old girl, leaving her with permanent scarring.

A court heard the incident happened after the dog got out of the house after being kept in by its owner, who never took it for a walk.

A judge at Warwick Crown Court ordered the animal called Boy to be destroyed and banned owner Laura Gillies from keeping a dog for ten years.

Gillies (37) of Watcombe Road, Wood End, Coventry, pleaded guilty to being in charge of a dog which was allowed to be dangerously out of control in public and cause injury.

She was given a community order with supervision for 12 months and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work after the judge said he was only just persuaded a custodial sentence was not necessary.

Prosecutor Anthony Warner said the girl had encountered the dog previously around Christmas last year when it had jumped at a friend she was with.

Then in April, the American bulldog got out again, biting her arms and head on a grassed area near Gillies’ home.

Gillies later told the police Boy did not have a lead because he did not like being on one, and did not have a muzzle because she did not think it was necessary.

She had owned the dog for about three years, but kept it in the house because he was ‘frightened of the lead’ and, because of his size and strength, she did not know whether she would be able to control him.

Because other people in the house were aware of it, they tended to keep the door locked. But Mr Warner said the dog got out as “someone must have left the door open.”

The girl had seen it in the street near her home, so had not gone out until it seemed the dog had gone.

But the dog re-appeared and ran towards her before attacking her. She ran to a family friends’ house where she was let in.

The girl suffered serious bites to her ear and both arms, including two to her forearms down to the muscle, and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

She had stitches and was in such pain and distress when the stitches were later removed, it had to be done under general anaesthetic. She was off school for five weeks.

David Rees, defending, said that after the incident Gillies’ eldest son called the police to take the dog away, which they did, but it was not known whether it had been destroyed.

He said: “My understanding is that after the dog had attacked the young girl, the defendant, on hearing screaming, had run out and used herself as a shield.

“… She is clearly ashamed of what happened. It was not something she envisaged would or could happen.

“This dog she had had for three years in the company of her children and her young grandchild had not displayed such behaviour before.”

Recorder Thomas Rochford told Gillies: “You were the owner of a dog which caused injury to a child when that dog was dangerously out of control.

“She will almost certainly remain with those scars for the rest of her life because that dog was not kept under control.

“You clearly made some attempt to end the attack, but there are aggravating features.

“This was a dog of a type which can be aggressive. You must have known that. It was a dog which had been out of control before, and it was a dog you had not trained, and it was a dog who was never taken for a walk.”