Published: 12:28, 16 May 2018
| Updated: 12:35, 16 May 2018
A dog owner wept today after being told his beloved pet is to die - after it attacked a four-year-old girl.
A judge decided to make the destruction order after hearing how the American pitbull-mastiff cross-breed sunk its teeth into a child.
The youngster needed hospital treatment following the attack which happened in its owner's home in Cliftonville last March.
Father-of-four Steven Thomson, 58, wept in the dock at Canterbury Crown Court after hearing the fate of the animal, named Dre after an American rapper.
Thomson’s barrister Peter Alcock said it had been a much-loved pet which had never before shown aggressive tendencies.
“He is truly remorseful, particularly for the child and the past year has taken its toll on him emotionally.”
But the court heard - after spending a year on “Death Row” in kennels, costing the taxpayer £7200 – the animal was now manifesting “real issues” of aggression.
Judge Simon James said: “I am simply not prepared to take the risk of the animal biting again.
"Your dog bit a four-year-old child in the face, leaving her with significant wounds, which resulted in her receiving stitches under general anaesthetic.
“I have seen photographs of this little girl’s injuries taken at the hospital and it is impossible to conclude the injuries were anything other than serious."
“The only way to protect the public is for Dre to be put to sleep" - Judge Simon James
Thomson hung his head and wiped away tears as the judge told him: “The only way to protect the public is for Dre to be put to sleep.”
The father of four had pleaded guilty to having a dog dangerously out of control at his home in Cliftonville.
It followed hours of discussions between lawyers and the judge about the legal definition of being “dangerously” out of control.
Thomson, of Godwin Road, eventually changed his plea after receiving assurances from the judge that he would not receive an immediate jail sentence.
He was ordered to pay the child £500 compensation and ordered to remain indoors between 8pm and 6am for the next four months under an electronic tagging order.
The judge added the compensation figure represented what Thomson, who is on benefits, could pay and not “I stress, because I believe that is adequate compensation.”
The judge accepted that Thomson could not reasonably have “foreseen the events which unfolded” and ruled against barring him from owning another animal.
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.