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Teenage girl sentenced after dog attack in Jenkins Dale, Chatham

A teenage girl who was walking a dog which attacked a small child leaving her with horrific injuries, did so for payment in cannabis, a youth court heard.

The girl, who is from Chatham, but can't be named because of her age, was charged with being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control, after an incident in Jenkins Dale, in Chatham, in April.

The dog, which belonged to two other people she had befriended, mauled the little girl's face before clamping its jaws around her head in front of other children, who tried to fight it off.

Police at the scene of the dog attack
Police at the scene of the dog attack

The tot, who was just 18 months old at the time had her scalp ripped off during the savage incident and the skin from it could not be reattached by doctors.

The couple who owned it had paid the teenager, who was 15 at the time, in cannabis to take the dog called Max out for a walk, something she had done on two other occasions.

The teenager appeared before magistrates in the youth court at Medway Magistrates' Court earlier today, she had previously admitted the charge in September.

Sarah Worsley prosecuting told the youth court, the dog's owners, Michael Thornton, 26, and Hayley Eldridge, 28, had asked the teenager to take the animal for a walk and would pay her either in cash or cannabis.

The teenager elected to be paid in cannabis and took the dog to a children's park in Jenkins Dale where it attacked the toddler.

Ms Worsley, said: "Dogs are not allowed in the park, but the girl did not see the sign and took it into the area.

The play area in Jenkins Dale
The play area in Jenkins Dale

"At that point it attacked the child and ripped her scalp off.

"It was unable to be reattached and she had to have a shield put around her head and now has a skin graft in place.

"She has to undergo ongoing surgery."

The court also heard parts of a witness impact statement made by the child's father.

He said: "It has changed our daughter's and our lives forever.

"We have years of hospital visits when we should be taking our daughter to children's parties.

The attack took place in Jenkins Dale
The attack took place in Jenkins Dale

"Both myself and her mother have had to take time off work with stress.

"I don't know if we will ever be able to emotionally recover."

The court also heard the teenager, who had never been in trouble with the law before, blamed herself for what happened.

Luke Mayer defending, said: "This was a horrendous incident for all parties. She clearly blames herself.

"She is not the owner of the dog. She did have problems at home and she looked up to Hayley and Michael.

"They were older than her and she had a misplaced respect. She thought it was an honour to walk the dog.

The park in Jenkins Dale where the attack unfolded
The park in Jenkins Dale where the attack unfolded

"She had only walked it twice before that night. She was smoking cannabis with them sometimes in their flat.

"They are the adults. It was difficult for her to control the power of the dog. She couldn't control it.

"She is on sleeping tablets and has nightmares. She put her hands in the dog's mouth and there was blood everywhere.

"She is perhaps a victim herself, she's trying to address her issues and is taking everything offered to her.

"She is one of the most remorseful people I have come across."

Magistrates decided to order supervision on the girl for 12 months and ordered she carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

"Dogs are not allowed in the park, but the girl did not see the sign and took it into the area" - prosecutor Sarah Worsley

As part of the supervision community order, she also has to achieve 100% school attendance.

She will also take part in therapy and positive activity sessions as directed by the youth offending team.

After the tot was injured, the dog was shot by police.

Thornton and Eldridge, both from Chatham, denied being the owner of a dog which caused injury to the child while dangerously out of control in a public place when they appeared at Maidstone Crown Court last week.

The court heard Thornton, of Ryde Close, and Eldridge, of Gorse Avenue, had only owned the dog for a week and believed it to be a lawful Staffordshire bull terrier cross-breed.

Thornton and Eldridge were granted conditional bail until their trial set for August 13 next year.

There will be a pre-trial review on March 1. Judge Philip Statman said he had seen the nature of the injuries caused and there was a clear public interest in the case.

Police carried out tests on the dog after it was shot and found it to be a banned breed under the Dangerous Dog Act.

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