Owner of Rottweiler that savaged girl, 7, in ‘horrendous’ dog attack is spared jail

Owner of Rottweiler that savaged girl, 7, in ‘horrendous’ dog attack is spared jail

The owner of a Rottweiler that savaged a seven-year-old girl who was saved by her hoodie has walked free from court.

James Palmer, 31, was holding the dog on a lead and a harness when it launched itself at the little girl, leaving her with horrific facial injuries on 11 April last year.

A court heard that the terrified girl had gone over to stroke the dog when it leapt up at her in Dent Close, Worcester.

The girl in a bed at Worcestershire Royal Hospital after she was attacked by the dog (SWNS)
The girl in a bed at Worcestershire Royal Hospital after she was attacked by the dog (SWNS)

She was rushed to hospital, where she underwent extensive facial surgery to a gaping cheek wound and has been left scarred for life as a result of the “horrendous” attack.

Have you been affected by dangerous dog attacks? If so email holly.bancroft@independent.co.uk

Her family believes the black hoodie she was wearing at the time helped save her life by stopping the dog from harming her further and she was “lucky to be alive”.

When police were called, Mr Palmer stayed in his flat and initially refused to hand over the dog – named Rocky – but eventually agreed to have it taken away.

Palmer admitted being in charge of a dangerously out-of-control dog that caused injury when he appeared at Worcester Magistrates’ Court in May.

The seven-year-old girl was left with ‘flesh hanging from her face’ (SWNS)
The seven-year-old girl was left with ‘flesh hanging from her face’ (SWNS)

On Thursday he was handed a six-month jail sentence, suspended for a year, and an order was issued for the dog to be destroyed.

He was also ordered to pay the girl £1,500 compensation, a £128 victim surcharge and £185 costs as well as the £2,500 bill towards the cost of keeping Rocky in kennels.

Chair of the bench Charles Townsend said: “I can’t state clearly enough how serious the injury was. She will be permanently scarred.”

Sumreen Asfar, prosecuting, told the court how the dog had leapt at the little girl’s jaw after she had gone to stroke it outside her home.

She said: “There was a call from her mother that a dog was attacking her child. She was taken to the A&E. There was flesh hanging from her face.

“She has had surgery and she is going to have a scar on her face for the rest of her life.”

James Palmer, the owner of the dog, appeared in court after the animal bit a seven-year-old girl’s face (Worcester News/SWNS)
James Palmer, the owner of the dog, appeared in court after the animal bit a seven-year-old girl’s face (Worcester News/SWNS)

The prosecutor said the dog was not muzzled at the time of the attack, despite having been muzzle trained.

Ms Asfar added: “The dog can become aggressive – if he is not muzzled this can be a repeated incident.

“When the dog was seized by police it was unwell and was suffering from malnutrition.”

Will Harrison, defending, said Mr Palmer had been upset at what happened and suffered mentally from the media attention the case had attracted.

He added: “Not only that but in July this year he was admitted to hospital with a collapsed lung. He is signed off work.”

Mr Harrison said a report from a dog expert identified two “plausible” explanations: either Rocky had felt threatened and reacted, or children had ice creams and the dog had tried to bite one and caught the victim’s face.

He added: “There was no sustained attack; it was a lunge. Ultimately, the report concludes, if properly managed the dog isn’t a danger.”

Speaking previously, the parents of the victim, who wish to remain anonymous, said they believed their daughter’s hoodie saved her life.

The girl’s 35-year-old stepfather said: “It was lucky – I feel the hoodie saved her life. If the dog had grabbed her neck, that would have been it.”

Recalling the attack, the girl, who is now nine, said Mr Palmer had told her his dog was “friendly”, so she went closer and stroked him on the head.

She added: “Then I saw he was looking at me and he looked like he wanted to attack me.

“He was looking me straight in the eye and looked like he was about to pounce. He jumped and bit. When his paws were on me I felt how strong he was. I felt the power.”

She said Mr Palmer tried to pull the animal back and slapped the dog during the attack, which she estimated lasted around two seconds.

Photos released by the family show the gaping bloody wound and the girl lying on a hospital trolley with her face bandaged up.

The girl added: “I was shocked and scared. I didn’t feel the pain. Neighbours were looking and told me to get in and tell my mum.”

Her 11-year-old brother also witnessed the horror unfold and rushed upstairs to alert their mum.

An ambulance took her to Worcestershire Royal Hospital, where she had the wound cleaned and stitched under general anaesthetic.

Her mother, 41, said: “She is just really lucky that the dog let go. I’m afraid the dog will attack other children.

“Whenever she sees a big dog now she hangs on to our hands and gets very nervous. I’m afraid she will be like this forever now.

“But we know it could have been a lot worse. We just don’t want this dog to attack any more children.”

Published by anthonyhayble

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