Glasgow & West Scotland

Couple jailed over Paisley dangerous dog attacks

Sylvia Baillie Image copyright Watchtower Media
Image caption Sylvia Baillie with her brother Stevie Pursley after the attack which left her with severe facial injuries

A couple in charge of a dog which attacked two women in separate incidents have been jailed and banned from keeping dogs for 20 years.

Sylvia Baillie, 60, was bitten on the cheek by the Japanese Akita in Paisley in July 2016, while Jane Darroch, 72, suffered arm injuries a month earlier.

Leeane McHugh, 35, and Patrick Maher, 46, had previously admitted separate dangerous dog charges.

A court heard the pair had failed to help during the attack on Ms Baillie.

Sheriff David Pender sentenced them both to 12 months in prison, pointing out that dog wardens had previously told them to keep the dog on a short leash - advice they had not followed.

He also ordered the Akita to be destroyed and banned the couple from keeping dogs until 2037.

Image copyright Watchtower Media
Image caption Patrick Maher and Leeane McHugh admitted being in charge of a dog that was dangerously out of control

He awarded compensation of £1,000 to Ms Baillie, the couple's neighbour, and £500 to Ms Darroch, Maher's aunt.

Ms Baillie was attacked in McHugh and Maher's Paisley home on 13 July last year after a funeral.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Alan Parfery told Paisley Sheriff Court that as Ms Baillie left she went to wave goodbye to the dog which then bit her on the face.

"The dog's jaw locked, for what's described as a few seconds, before her daughter grabbed the dog and pulled the dog away," Mr Parfery said.

"Neither [McHugh of Maher] did anything during that period of time.

"They were both in the room and [McHugh], the owner of the dog, did nothing during that time, albeit it was a short time."

Permanently disfigured

Maher took the dog out of the living room and later told police that it ran outside his flat.

McHugh tried to treat Baillie's injuries and the police and ambulance were called.

Mr Parfery added: "When emergency services arrived they found the 60-year-old [Sylvia Baillie] with a wound to the left side of her face.

"The injury was very severe and she is permanently disfigured.

"Doctors are unable to say how many stitches were applied as they were both external - to the face - and inside her mouth.

"There were so many stitches inserted, the doctors could not say."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The couple admitted being in charge of an out-of-control Japanese Akita, similar to this one

The dog bit Maher's aunt two weeks earlier, on 30 June while it was tied up outside her home.

Following the attack, Ms Darroch's wrist bone was exposed and she had to have 12 stitches.

Maher and McHugh each admitted a charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 - that they were in charge of a dog that was dangerously out of control and left its victim scarred for life.

Defence solicitor Gordon Ritchie, representing Maher, described the attack on Mrs Darroch as "a particularly distressing incident."

He said Maher had been in the grip of a serious alcohol addiction at the time.

'Vicious propensity'

The lawyer said: "There was nothing to suggest, as far as he was concerned, for the dog to attack and inflict injury on a member of the public."

Lawyer Mark Fallon, representing McHugh, said it was "a unique and unusual" case.

He said the incident involving Ms Baillie "had some degree of predictability" but McHugh "felt she'd taken enough steps" to ensure the public was safe from the dog in her own home.

"She's full of regret", Mr Fallon said. "They had been friends for years and this has caused irreparable damage to that friendship."

Sheriff Pender said: "There's no doubt, by the time Mrs Baillie was bitten, it must've been very clear the dog had a vicious propensity.

"You took no steps to ensure people visiting your home were safe from the dog."

The pair earlier had other dangerous dog charges dropped for agreeing to admit guilt in relation to the attacks on Ms Baillie and Ms Darroch.

Outside court, Ms Baillie said: "I've never been the same since the attack. I can't bear dogs or to be near dogs now. I still get flashbacks."

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