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Kevin Chapman avoids jail after dangerous dog bites and breaks boy's hand in Northfleet

By KentOnline reporter

A dog owner whose aggressive Japanese Akita bit and broke a young boy's hand in two places has been spared jail, but the animal will now be destroyed.

Kevin Chapman had left the dog, described as boisterous and very unpredictable, in the care of his eight-year-old nephew playing in the street.

The dog was tied up but lunged at the boy's friend, Reggi Jarvis, also aged eight. The youngster's hand was punctured on the back and palm and he needed surgery to insert a metal plate.

Reggi in hospital after the dog attack
Reggi in hospital after the dog attack

A court heard the Akita, known as Tank and believed to be three years old, had bitten a friend of Chapman's on an earlier occasion.

It was one of three Akitas owned by Chapman although only two, including Tank, lived at his home.

On the day Tank attacked Reggi, the 29-year-old asked his young nephew to look after it so he could try out a motorcycle which the children had been riding in the street.

Chapman, 29, later claimed the dog had acted out of character and simply 'nipped' Reggi.

Prosecutor Dominic Connolly said Tank had been housed in kennels since the attack on June 12 last year.

"Tank is described as very unpredictable and boisterous. He gets worked up if anyone walks past his enclosure and would bite if he had the chance," he added.

Reggi needed surgery on his hand
Reggi needed surgery on his hand

Chapman admitted being the owner of a dog which caused injury while dangerously out of control in a public place.

He was given eight months' imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 140 hours' unpaid work.

When told he also had to pay Reggi £500 compensation, Chapman replied: "£500 doesn't sound enough for what the poor boy has been through."

Reggi, now aged nine, was playing outside his aunt's home in Huntley Avenue in Northfleet when he was attacked, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Chapman was walking Tank when he spotted his nephew on a motorbike.

"The defendant asked to have a go and tied his dog to a lamppost and told his nephew to look after it," said Mr Connolly.

An akita dog. Stock image
An akita dog. Stock image

"It would appear the dog became free and Reggi described how the dog ran towards him and bit him on his right hand.

"He said it was really painful and there was a lot of blood. He said he was bit for a couple of seconds with the dog's teeth going through his hand.

"Kevin Chapman ran over and told his nephew 'I told you to hold him'."

Reggi, who described hearing his bone crunch, needed specialist treatment and physiotherapy. His hand was put in plaster and a sling, and the court heard he still has scarring, suffers from pain and is now 'petrified' of dogs.

Passing sentence, Judge Heather Baucher said the previous bite to Chapman's friend should have alerted him to the risk.

"You knew full well that this dog had bitten somebody else while it was in your home. That should have been sufficient warning to you.

"These are large dogs and capable, by reason of their large jaws, of causing a lot of damage. This injury was bad enough but it could have been far, far worse" - Judge Heather Baucher

"These are large dogs and capable, by reason of their large jaws, of causing a lot of damage. This injury was bad enough but it could have been far, far worse."

When arrested, Chapman said the dog had 'nipped' Reggi after another boy touched Tank near its backside.

Ordering Tank's destruction, Judge Baucher said Chapman had not provided the court with any information to argue the dog was not a danger to the public.

A previous hearing heard however that Chapman, of Wallis Park, Northfleet, had already forfeited his ownership to the authorities.

But he has not been banned from keeping animals as there were said to be 'no issues' with his second dog, Lucky, who was described as being 'far more sociable'.

Ben Irwin, defending, said Chapman, who rolls fish bait for a living, was genuinely sorry for what happened.

Judge Heather Baucher
Judge Heather Baucher

"Tank had behaved boisterously in the past and the defendant didn't take the sufficient precautions to make something like this impossible to happen.

"The dog should have been muzzled and dealt with while in the presence of children."

Mr Irwin added that Chapman wanted to 'make things right' by Reggi.

When Chapman questioned the amount being awarded, Judge Baucher said it was 'a token' as nothing could compensate Reggi for both the physical and psychological harm he suffered.

She added she also had to take Chapman's limited means into account.

He has 10 previous convictions for 24 offences including burglary and theft, and was already subject to a suspended sentence at the time Reggi was bitten.

The court heard he smashed doors and china ornaments with a hammer at the home he shared with his mum, and carved the words 'You ****' into living room wallpaper with a Stanley knife.

Akitas are large, powerful dogs and not considered suitable for first-time dog owners. The breed is legally regarded in some countries as a dangerous dog.

However, while they are described as strong, independent and dominant, their temperament is said to be usually docile, aloof and calm.

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