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Emma Knell, from East Malling, avoids jail after her dangerously out of control dog bit off postman's finger

The owner of a Staffordshire bull terrier which bit off part of a postman's finger as he put mail through the door has avoided jail.

Emma Knell, 37, was found guilty in January after magistrates heard Keith Bourne was attacked by six-year-old Rosie in April as he pushed post through the letterbox of her home in Elm Crescent, East Malling.

Part of the ring finger on his right hand was severed and attempts to re-attach it were not successful.

Knell had claimed Mr Bourne had been trespassing.

She also told police her dog always reacted when the post was delivered and frequently tried to grab it.

Knell, who was convicted of owning a dog dangerously out of control causing injury, also admitted that he had asked her to take steps to stop the dog from doing this.

The court was told, since the attack, an external letterbox has been put in.

Knell was today sentenced to six months' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay Mr Bourne £750 in compensation and carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.

Magistrates in Maidstone also made a contingent destruction order for the dog, meaning it would not be destroyed if it wore a muzzle in public and was never walked near anybody under the age of 18.

Following the trial in January, Mr Bourne, a postman of seven years, said: "I'm just glad she was found guilty for some sort of justice to be done.

"It has been quite traumatic. I'm not so bad now, I've accepted it and you have just got to get on with life. I won't do that round now, but I am still a postman. At first I wanted to stay inside, but once I went out and got the confidence back, I'm not too bad.

Emma Knell leaving court today (7516344)
Emma Knell leaving court today (7516344)

"I'm still frightened when I see a dog but that's to be expected."

Mr Bourne has since been able to return to his job of delivering post but on a different round.

Chairman of the bench, Jean Sanderson, said: "We heard about the circumstances. It was a particularly serious offence.

"This has caused him significant harm and losing a finger is something he will never regain.

"We have considered various things in relation to this offence. You intervened in the attack and you helped the victim and have shown remorse.

"You’ve put measures in place to prevent future attacks. But we know you had been warned that an attack like this could have taken place; the postman warned you.

"This was a serious offence so it is very important the message goes out clearly that this doesn’t happen again."

Nigel Pilkington, from the CPS, said after the conviction: “The defendant knew how her dog reacted to the post being delivered and failed to do anything about it, which led to this attack.

“The defence had claimed the postman was trespassing on the defendant’s property, as he had to enter through a gate, but it was our case that postmen and women have to be able to securely deliver the mail and therefore have a right to be on someone’s property.

Postman Keith Bourne lost part of his ring finger when he was bitten by Emma Knell's Staffie (6889221)
Postman Keith Bourne lost part of his ring finger when he was bitten by Emma Knell's Staffie (6889221)

"The law was changed precisely to protect postmen and women who enter private property.

“This means they do have to put their fingers through a letterbox on occasions and should be able to do so without fear of attack.

“We were able to use case law to prove our point, including a very similar case in Stockport, where the defendant was also convicted of the same charge.”

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