Dog owner jailed after savage play park attack left young boy disfigured

A dog owner has been jailed after he allowed his pet to attack a young boy in a Wakefield play park, disfiguring him for life.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 3:01 pm

Benjamine Luke Swindells failed to call his Staffordshire Bull Terrier off the 11-year-old as he attacked him twice in a matter of moments, leaving him covered in blood and requiring surgery, Leeds Crown Court was told.

Prosecuting, Jade Edwards said the youngster had been in the park kicking a ball around at 4.30pm on February 4, 2020.

The boy noticed the terrier running towards him, thinking he wanted the ball, but the dog leapt up and bit him to the side of his head.

Benjamine Swindells was jailed.

As he fell to the floor he tried to push the dog away and he eventually let go.

The boy then tried to run away but the dog chased him down again, jumped up and locked his jaws onto his forearm, dragging him to the floor.

The Crown say Swindells was not rushing over to the boy and was simply slowly walking towards him, details that were agreed during a previous Newton Hearing to decide the facts in the case.

Swindells had disagreed with this version of events claiming he had run over to the boy.

He eventually dragged the dog away to put it on a lead, but began walking away.

When the boy's mother arrived she could hear her son screaming, then saw him on his knees and covered in blood.

She asked Swindells if he was going to stay at the scene, but shrugged his shoulders and carried on walking, the court heard.

The boy was taken to hospital where he required surgery, but was told he would be permanently scarred and may need further surgery later in life.

His mother read out an impact statement to the court and said to see Swindells walking away from the scene was "unforgivable" and said her son was now struggling to sleep and anxious about going out.

She added that the incident was "totally preventable".

Swindells, who has three previous convictions, admitted a charge of having a dog that was dangerously out of control.

Mitigating, Jessica Butterell, said that Swindells had had the dog from being a puppy and had never been concerned about any aggressive behaviour from the animal before.

A former military man, he was discharged because he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was currently unemployed. He also suffers from bipolar disorder and split personality disorder.

She said of Swindells: "He is under no illusion of the seriousness of the offences. He is genuinely remorseful.

"He could have dealt with it better. He is regretful for that. "

Presiding judge, Recorder Michael Fanning said: "I can't accept the remorse you claim to have, but I do accept you have real regrets over the lack of control of the dog.

"You made no effort to run after the dog. You did not try to pull the dog away."

Swindells, of Muirfield Drive, Wakefield, was jailed for 19 months and banned from keeping dogs for five years.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was also ordered to be put down.