Court of Appeal spares dogs after attack on Wrexham man

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A YOUNG man who was savaged by two bull terriers says he is “appalled” after top judges ruled that the dogs’ lives should be spared.

Daniel O’Keefe, from Acton, was bitten on his legs and body and his clothes left in shreds after a prolonged attack by the dogs, named Millie and Snoop in August 2008.

At Mold Crown Court in September 2009, the Recorder Nic Parry ordered the dogs should be put down because they had “now tasted blood”.

But yesterday three senior judges at the Court of Appeal in London said the dogs could live as long as they are kept under “proper control and restraint” and Snoop is neutered.

Speaking about the result, Daniel, now 20, said: “I’m appalled by it and it shouldn’t happen.

“If I was the owner of dogs who attacked someone else I would put them down straight away.

“I would worry the dogs could attack a child or another person.

“I will be trying to appeal against this decision. I’m just appalled by the justice system in general.”

Daniel has been left with scars following the attack, which happened as he got out of his car on Chestnut Avenue, Wrexham, on August 13, 2008.

Speaking about the attack Daniel, a waste co-ordinator for Portable Foods on Wrexham Industrial Estate, said: “I was just so shaken up.

“I have some scars over my body. I’m still wary now when I see dogs.”

In September 2009 the dogs’ owner, Jamie Joseph Harry, of Chestnut Avenue, Wrexham, admitted two counts of being in charge of his dogs while they were dangerously out of control.

Harry was sentenced to a conditional discharge for 12 months with £750 costs and £150 compensation for damage.

Mold Crown Court heard both dogs had been let out of their cages in the kitchen by Harry, who had not realised a builder had left a gate open.

Neighbours in the street tried to help Daniel, who at one point was struggling with the dogs on the floor, because the two dogs carried on attacking him.

Daniel eventually sought refuge in a neighbour’s house after they managed to trap the head of a dog in the door.

At the Court of Appeal, Harry’s barrister, Mark Roberts, argued a veterinary report on the dogs’ characters suggested they should not be automatically condemned.

The report described both dogs as friendly and, although Snoop was “boisterous and powerful”, said neither displayed aggression as part of their normal behaviour.

The continued attack and chase may have been down to Mr O’Keefe’s running away which, combined with the excitement of getting free, resulted in Snoop’s dominance as a male emerging.

It was unlikely Millie, a cross-breed Staffordshire bull terrier, would have behaved that way in any other circumstances, the report said.

The sentencing judge had refused to adjourn the crown court hearing in order to allow for the preparation of such a report and so did not have the information before him, Mr Roberts said.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said: “In our judgment, the report was relevant to the issues to be considered.

“We are satisfied this is a report which should have been before the court and the adjournment sought by the appellant should have been allowed by the Recorder.

“For the victim, this was a frightening and distressing incident which caused him physical injury.

“As to Snoop and Millie, there is nothing in the history of their behaviour that suggested that, prior to the incident, either dog was a danger to the public.”

See full story in the Leader

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Most Read