Earby boy mauled by dog but owner walks free from court

Burnley Magistrates Court
Burnley Magistrates Court
Share this article

The owner of a vicious Staffordshire Bull Terrier which savaged and seriously injured a 10-year-old Earby boy in a children’s play area, walked free from court.

Pennine magistrates were told how the large animal had got out of a back yard because of inadequate fencing and went for the victim, knocking him to the ground and repeatedly biting him all over his body in the terrifying attack.

The boy, who had been playing football with his friends, was left with multiple wounds which became infected.

The 14-month-old dog, which is believed to have been destroyed, although the court couldn’t confirm that, was said to have never escaped nor caused any injury to anyone before.

It’s owner, Steven James Hant (30), of Kenilworth Drive, Earby, admitted being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control in the play area on Kenilworth Drive and causing injury, on September 13th.

He could have been facing up to six months behind bars.

The jobless defendant, who has a conviction for attempting to supply Class A drugs, was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work.

The magistrates also made a destruction order for the dog, not having had confirmation it has been put down.

Hant was disqualified from keeping or owning dogs for two years and was ordered to pay the victim £260 compensation. The justices told him it was a sustained attack and serious injury and some psychological harm had been caused to the child victim.

The chairman, who said Hant was very remorseful for what happened, added: “This was a very serious offence. We feel that the steps taken to contain the dog were not sufficient.”

Prosecutor Dominic Howell said the victim was playing football at tea-time with friends when the defendant’s dog escaped from his auntie’s house, where it was kept in the back yard.

He told the court: “It was a bit of a ramshackle sort of fence. The dog either jumped over it, or for whatever reason, got out and mauled the victim. It jumped at him, knocked him to the ground and bit him.”

Mr Howell said the boy suffered bites to his nostrils and right ear, puncture wounds to his right shoulder and arm, one of which became infected, three wounds to his hand and more puncture wounds to his arms and legs.

The 10-year-old was taken to hospital. The prosecutor said: “It took some time to treat the injuries and they were infected.”

Mr Howell said when interviewed, the defendant accepted responsibility and said when he had been alerted to the incident, he had gone and restrained the dog.

He admitted the fence was probably inadequate but said the dog had never escaped before. Mr Howell told the court although it would seem the incident was a one-off, it had had serious consequences.

Mr Howell added: “I don’t doubt the dog has been seized and it has been destroyed.” The hearing was told Hant was given a suspended jail term in 2009 for attempting to supply Class A drugs.

Graeme Tindall, defending Hant, said: “I think it’s agreed by everybody that this, regrettably, has come completely out of the blue.

“He had had the dog since it was eight-weeks-old and it was 14-months-old when the incident happened.”

The solicitor continued: “He has 16 nephews and nieces, aged between one and 16, the dog had never shown any signs of aggression towards the children and it has never escaped from the garden in the past.”

“He has to concede the efforts he made to secure the garden were inadequate. The dog having escaped, he did everything right after that. He pulled the dog off and made efforts to make sure it was secure.”

Mr Tindall added: “He himself has telephoned the police. He asked them to take the dog away.

“His understanding is the dog was destroyed on that day.

“He was full and frank with the police and he pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.”