Girl tells court of moment dog attacked her

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

A PENSIONER today told a court that she left her grandson’s massive American Akita dog alone in her garden as she went to watch Emmerdale mo plments before it chewed through a fence and savaged a girl playing on her trampoline.

Brian Ralph’s dog – named Chaos by his owner – bit the girl, just 13 at the time, 16 times after chewing through her trampoline before she fled for her home.

Ralph denies a charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act in relation to the incident – with his lawyer today claiming he had a “reasonable belief” that the dog was left with a “fit and proper person” in his frail 80-year-old gran.

Margaret Deas told a trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court that she had left the dog lying on slabs outside her back door in Lomond Gardens, Methil, and “accidentally” closed the door behind her as she went to watch her evening soaps.

But minutes later the animal had chewed through a fence and launched the vicious attack on the defenceless girl.

Earlier the schoolgirl attacked by Chaos told the court she “thought she was going to die” as the “muscly” dog pursued her before pinning her down and repeatedly biting her.

Today prosecutors urged a sheriff to find Ralph guilty of the charge he faces on the second day of his trial.

Giving evidence in his own defence Ralph claimed he had never left the dog alone with his gran other than overnight when he was on nightshift in the two years he had stayed with her – a claim contradicted by his own father minutes later.

During his evidence Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC asked Ralph: “Where did the dog’s name, Chaos, come from?”

Ralph claimed one of his two children had come up with it, adding: “He was always up to mischief and stuff.”

The sheriff asked: “But you didn’t call him Mischief, you called him Chaos?”

Ralph began to reply “Mischief doesn’t sound very...” before failing to finish his sentence.

He later denied suggestions by fiscal depute Nicola Henderson that he knew his dog had a “propensity” for aggresion.

The prosecutor said: “The reality is this is a dog you knew had a propensity for excitement or aggression around strange children.

“You failed to secure the garden properly and you left the dog in the charge of an elderly lady who was unsteady on her feet and clearly couldn’t control Chaos?”

Ralph replied: “I can’t answer for that night because I wasn’t there.”

Giving evidence on the first day of the trial the girl attacked by Chaos said he had been barking in the garden before chewing down a fence.

The animal then began to bite at barbed wire separating that garden from hers before opening up a hole that he squeezed through.

Chaos then roamed round her garden before walking underneath the trampoline the two children were playing on.

The girl said he bit holes in the fabric they were bouncing on - prompting her to get off in a bid to summon help from her brother.

Describing the horrific attack that followed, she said: “He came up and jumped on top of me.

“He put his paw right down my back – right down the middle.

“I landed on my back and Chaos was trying to bite me on my face.

“I put my hands up to protect myself and he started biting my arms repeatedly.

“I ended up with 13 bites on my left arm and three on my right.

“I was screaming and shouting for help.”

The girl added: “I thought I was going to die – I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

“When I took my jumper off all I could see was bitemarks and blood everywhere.

“I had to have two operations to clean and stitch and bandage the wounds.”

Ralph (24) of Methil, denies a charge of being the owner of a dog that was dangerously out of control in Lomond Gardens, Methil, on July 20 last year.

Giving closing submissions fiscal depute Nicola Henderson urged the sheriff to convict Ralph of the charge.

But defence solicitor Iain McCafferty said: “On this evening there was a fairly tragic event but for two years before that there was no warning or indication to him that this could happen.

“I suggest his belief that Mrs Deas was a fit and proper person to look after the dog was a reasonable one.”

The trial, before Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC, continues later this month.