July 23 2014 Latest news:
Emma Youle, News editor
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
A judge has demanded tougher sentences for people who keep fighting dogs after hearing how a pit bull terrier maimed a four-year-old girl inflicting “the worst injuries he had ever seen”.
The little girl, who cannot be named, was riding her scooter along the pavement when she was mauled by the dog named ‘Lucky’ outside Gospel Oak Station on December 4 last year.
Her frantic mother eventually pulled the ferocious beast off the girl, but she has been left scarred for life and unable to move half her face.
Lucky’s owner Hezron Curtis, 35, shouted ‘Sorry, I’m so sorry’ to the girl’s family as he was sentenced to just over two years in jail at Blackfriars Crown Court yesterday.
Just months before the attack the pit bull had savaged another victim, Douglas Curtis, while he was asleep in bed in Highgate Road, Tufnell Park, on August 4.
"The girl’s injuries practically amounted to the removal of the side of her face and there was a lump of flesh and muscle that was found on the pavement."
The dog had chased Mr Curtis’s cat into his house and killed it before biting him on the foot during the onslaught.
Judge Peter Clarke QC ordered that Lucky be destroyed and banned the defendant from keeping dogs for five years.
He said: “This case has demonstrated that the maximum sentence for this kind of offence is in need of urgent reform.
“When a small child can be attacked in this way, even without the owner wanting it to happen - given the harm that was caused to the girl, I feel I was constrained in this case by the maximum sentence set by parliament.”
The maximum sentence under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 for being in charge of a dog which causes injury while dangerously out of control in a public place is just two years.
Curtis was cycling on a BMX bike with his two pit bull terriers Lucky and Blue on leads when Lucky attacked the four-year-old at around 6pm on December 4.
“Lucky, the larger of the two bull terriers, fastened its jaws around the girl’s head and pulled her from her scooter,” Judge Clarke said.
“The defendant’s reaction to that was immediate, it’s not the case that he stood by and watched.
“Eventually the child’s mother, with the defendant’s participation, managed to prise the dog’s jaws from around her daughter’s face.
“The photograph of the injury is, I think, the worst injury I have seen to a living person in the 40 years I have been working in the criminal justice system.
“Even the officer who attended the hospital ended his statement by saying ‘On numerous occasions I had to fight back from crying but remained strong and assisted in what way I could’.
“The girl’s injuries practically amounted to the removal of the side of her face and there was a lump of flesh and muscle that was found on the pavement.”
Curtis was arrested at the scene and the girl was rushed to the nearest hospital with life threatening injuries.
“She has not made a full recovery and may never make a full recovery,” said Judge Clarke. “She has no muscular control over the side of her face.”
The judge said Curtis’ knowledge of the previous attack “greatly aggravates the criminality in relation to the injuries to the girl”.
Curtis, of Laurier Road, Tufnell Park, admitted two counts of being in charge of a dog which caused injury while dangerously out of control.
He was sentenced to seven months for the attack on Douglas Curtis and 18 months consecutively for the attack on the four-year-old girl.