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Hornsey men jailed for vicious pitbull attack on officers

PUBLISHED: 12:15 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:53 07 September 2010

TWO Hornsey men have been sentenced to five years behind bars after setting their pitbull dogs on police officers in two savage attacks. Judge Simon Carr said he hoped the sentence would deter other young men who use dangerous dogs as a w

Charlotte Newton

TWO Hornsey men have been sentenced to five years behind bars after setting their pitbull dogs on police officers in two savage attacks.

Judge Simon Carr said he hoped the sentence would deter other young men who use dangerous dogs as a weapon or status symbol.

Mehmet Koc, 19, and Matthew Joannou, 20, both of Newland Road, were walking back from a Wood Green kebab shop on September 1 last year when they set their pitbulls on an off-duty police officer.

Tim Horgan, prosecuting, told Wood Green Crown Court last Wednesday that Pc Scott Tiffin had just finished a long shift policing the Notting Hill Carnival and was returning to his car at 4.45am when he was attacked.

He said: "Pc Tiffin saw two men walking towards him with two dogs which were not on leads. He felt slightly wary and stepped into the road but as he did, one man [Joannou] said 'I'm going to get my dog to kill you'.

A moment later Joannou pointed to his tan coloured pitbull and said "kill him" then the dog sank its teeth into the police officer.

"He shouted to the men 'get this dog off me' but they did nothing," Mr Horgan said.

The black pitbull belonging to Koc then ran at Pc Tiffin and grabbed his right arm. Terrified, he cried out to a colleague for help. The two police officers dived behind a metal fence and called for back-up on their mobile phones as the pitbulls gnarled and lunged at them.

Koc and Joannou then walked on towards Hornsey's New River housing estate with their dogs still unleashed. Two more police officers had driven up to the estate and called out to them.

Pc Feasey shouted "Police stop" but as he did so the dogs sprinted towards him.

Mr Horgan said: "Pc Feasey shouted 'call them off' but he heard no attempt by either defendant to call them back."

The tan coloured pitbull bit his left thigh, calf and leg while the black pitbull jumped up and grabbed his groin. More police officers arrived on the scene and brought the dogs under control. But both police officers suffered serious injuries in the attacks and will have permanent scarring.

When the defendants were questioned they both denied setting the dogs on the officers.

But on March 1, Koc and Joannou pleaded guilty to two counts of having a dog dangerously out of control in a public place, grievous bodily harm, wounding with intent and unlawful wounding.

Mitigating, Jeffrey Yearwood, representing Joannou, said it was not a premeditated attack and his client was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

Bruce Clark, representing Koc, said Koc felt genuine remorse.

In sentencing the defendants, Judge Carr said Pc Tiffin suffered "absolutely horrific" injuries and believed that he might die.

He added: "This was one of those cases which are sadly receiving more attention at the moment, where young men have some sort of bizarre and almost incredible belief in status symbols and get big, powerful, aggressive dogs, which somehow make them feel bigger and more important."

As well as sentencing the pair to five years in jail, the judge banned the defendants from keeping dogs for 10 years and ordered the pitbulls to be destroyed.

After the sentencing, Haringey's Superintendent Chris Barclay said: "I'm pleased to say that the officers who were attacked have returned to work and are on full operational duties.

"The fact that they returned so quickly is testament to their dedication to the police service and to the people of Haringey.


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