Teen Joseph Ripley locked up after man bites dog in self-defence
by Julia Roberts
A teenage thug who took part in a violent street attack that led
to a desperate man biting a dog as he was savaged by the animal has
been locked up for 18 months.
Joseph Ripley was just 15 when he "encouraged" his Staffordshire
bull terrier called Demon to attack Steven Laden in Luton Road,
Laden was bitten to his forearm and thighs and, in an attempt to
stop it from attacking him further, he himself bit the animal on
its hind and rump.
A judge at Maidstone Crown Court remarked that his bizarre
action might have saved his life in what he said was a "horrific
attack of sickening violence".
Ripley, now aged 17, was also assisted in the attack by his
mother, Anne Rossiter, 37, of Pagett Street, Gillingham.
Together, they repeatedly struck Mr Laden with a bottle, and
Ripley kicked him to the face "with full force".
"I bit as hard as I could. After about 20 seconds the dog made a yelping sound and decided to let go…” – victim Steven Laden
The court heard Mr Laden, who lives in Ashford, had six front
teeth knocked out, suffered cuts to his head, face and back, a
"slice" injury to his cheek that needed nine stitches, a gash to
his arm requiring five stitches, and dog bites.
He has been left permanently scarred and has recurring
nightmares of his ordeal, in December 2010.
Ripley, of Marlborough Road, Gillingham, admitted wounding with
intent to cause grievous bodily harm the day he was due to go on
trial in January.
Until now, a court order has prevented the media from naming
But it was lifted by Judge Martin Joy after he read written
arguments submitted by the KM Group.
Imposing an 18-month detention and training order, Judge Joy
said Ripley's sentence would have been "in double figures" if he
had been an adult.
"However, the law requires me, because of your youth, that there
has to be a very significant reduction in the inevitable custodial
sentence," he explained.
"In fact, the law requires that I impose the shortest sentence
to match the seriousness of the offence, taking into account the
Steven Laden was attacked
by Demon the dog in Luton Road
Ripley was also sentenced to four months concurrent in a young
offenders' institution for offences of burglary and handling stolen
goods, both committed while on bail for the dog attack.
Rossiter had denied wounding with intent, but was convicted by a
jury. Sentencing of her was adjourned for a report into
She is also to be sentenced for two unrelated offences of
assault causing actual bodily harm and one of unlawful
The court heard Mr Laden was attacked after he and his
girlfriend had gone to a bedsit looking for drugs.
Rossiter was said to have "exploded" after he made a comment.
The dog clamped its jaws onto Mr Laden's arm.
Giving evidence in the trial, Mr Laden explained how he then bit
the dog back.
"I bit as hard as I could," he said. "After about 20 seconds the
dog made a yelping sound and decided to let go."
However, Demon went for Mr Laden again, this time biting his
leg. Mr Laden was rescued when a passer-by prised open the dog's
jaw. It has since been destroyed.
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