A MILFORD HAVEN man has been ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service after he admitted losing control of a dog, which went on to seriously injure a toddler.
Stephen George, 48, of Howarth Close was in charge of a border collie called Roxie when the dog was off its lead. On May 30, 2021, the dog jumped over a garden wall and knocked a two-year-old boy to the floor and started biting his face.
The identify of the boy is protected by a court order.
The boy’s father was there in moments and got between his son and the dog, receiving bites to his thumb and index finger in the process. He picked up his boy, whose face was covered in blood – and an ambulance was called.
He said that the other kids thought his son was dead.
The court heard that examination of the boy’s injuries revealed a deep gash to the forehead, and a year later the wound has healed but left a ‘Harry Potter’ type scar on the boy’s forehead. The most serious wound was to the side of the head, where the dog had bitten through to the bone.
The court also heard that the toddler, now 3, fears noises such as fire alarms following the incident. He is hesitant to play in the sandpit, the court heard. There had also been a disruption to the boy’s sleeping patters because of the incident, is father said in a victim impact statement.
He added: “None of the children want to go out and play in the street anymore – the kids think dogs kill babies.”
The father told The Herald that medics had said that the dog bites had been “one centimetre from killing his son.”
Speaking for George, defence solicitor Mike Kelleher said that his client could not apologise enough. He said that the dog had been a pet which had grown up around kids on the estate and there had never been any problems like this before.
“My client is living with the thought every day that if he had kept the dog on the lead then this would never have happened.”
Mr Kelleher added: “He cannot apologise enough.”
“He thought that the dog should have been allowed to run along free briefly but mulling it over now he things it should have been on the lead.
“To the credit of the boy’s father he remains friends with Mr. George and is present in court today.
“Mr. George has not got any previous convictions and is very remorseful.
“The dog is not his, it belongs to his wife. My client is a farm labourer who works three days per week. He works only three days a week because he has a twelve-year-old son who has autism,
“His wages are topped up with state benefits.”
Mr Kelleher said that his client was not a wealthy man, but the victim’s father could apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority as Mr. George is guilty of the offence.
Mr Kelleher said that his client could serve a community sentence “as long as it did not interfere with his difficult family commitments”, he said.
After a brief period of deliberation, the two-man justices bench decided on sentence.
The chairman of the bench told George that he would have to serve 120 hours of community service, pay £1000 compensation for the injuries to the 2-year-old boy and pay £85 costs and £95 victim’s surcharge.
A payment order was made for £12 per fortnight.