2014: Dog attack on pub landlady sees man in court

The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author

A DOG owner whose out-of-control Staffordshire bull terrier caused “life changing” injuries to a pub landlady has avoided jail.

Gary Edward Moss, 43, of. Bleaswood Road, Oxenholme, was sentenced to a curfew and ordered to pay almost £2,000 when he appeared at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday.

Michelle Hipwell, who runs the Station Inn at Oxenholme, was mauled by one of Moss’s two terriers in an attack that left her dog bleeding and her in need to hospital treatment.

Brendan Burke, prosecuting, said the landlady spent almost a week at the Royal Preston Hospital and started recovery after five weeks following the attack on The Helm at 7.05am on August 8. The court heard Mrs Hipwell had been walking her two dogs on the lead when Moss’s white Staffordshire bull terrier came at her and bit one if her dogs on the ear, followed by the defendant’s black Staffordshire bull terrier Jack which bit and ripped at the fur of her other dog. “The complainant had to prise the white dog’s jaws open from her dog’s neck and then it but her hand,” said Mr Burke. In a victim statement Mrs Hipwell said she is now nervous about going out with her dog, has been unable to work and has had to rely on family members to carry out ever day tasks.

In mitigation David Birrell said Moss was a man of good character and had owned dogs for 20 years. The defendant, who pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control and being owner of a dangerously out of control dog which caused injury, had his white dog Rumble put down and said he now keeps a muzzle on his other dog at all times.

Judge Peter Hughes QC said: “This incident demonstrates just how careful dog owners have to be when they take their dogs out and particularly when they let them off their leads in places where other people are likely to be walking their dogs. The obligations on a a dog walker walking two dogs are onerous because it’s naturally an instinct for dogs to hunt in a pack and it’s almost impossible to anticipate an incident like this with absolutely horrific consequences. The injuries sustained by Mrs Hipwell really are quite awful. She could easily have lost the use of her hand.”

Moss was ordered to pay £1,500 compensation to Mrs Hipwell and £340 to cover the cost of vets bills. “It is apparent from these photographs that this figure I’m ordering is the very minimum and she’s probably entitled to significantly more,” added judge Hughes. Moss was also handed a community order with one condition of a 12 week curfew from 8pm-6am.

Westmorland Gazette, Friday 14 November 2014