Prosecutor v Lee Horner (2014) H&FLR 2014-31
Leeds Magistrates’ Court
3 July 2014
Coram: Spruce DDJ.
Catchwords: UK – Leeds – dogs – death
Facts: On 9 December 2013 one Emma Bennett was attacked by two “pit-bull type” dogs owned by the defendant (her partner).
The defendant was charged with possessing prohibited dogs in breach of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. He pleaded guilty to the charge but asserted that he was not certain either dog was a pit bull, save that he suspected one of them may be. Expert evidence was led that experts examining the dogs found them to have ‘sufficient’ characteristics of a prohibited breed of pit bull
It was put in mitigation that the defendant had suffered the loss of his partner and damage to his family ties, had developed anxiety and was having difficulty sleeping.
Held: The Court found that while a term of imprisonment would be appropriate, it would not be imposed in light of the defendants personal loss in the form of the death of his partner. It was accepted that the defendant was not aware the dogs were banned, but that he was also ‘ambivalent’ to the danger they represented and he had made no effort to establish their breed.
The Court noted that the Dangerous Dogs Act had been intended to protect the public from particular breeds because –
these animals are inclined to be unpredictable in nature and often with devastating consequences. … That unpredictability, those consequences could not be more solemnly illustrated than in the unique and tragic circumstances of [this] case … [in which two] dogs with no previous recorded history of difficulty, danger or harm have set upon their owner.
The defendant was sentenced to a community order and directed to complete 280 hours of unpaid work as well as being ordered to pay £500 towards destruction of the dogs, £240 in prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge. He was also banned Horner from keeping dogs for life.