Dangerous dog's Newport owner first man in Gwent to be jailed using new sentencing powers after attack on woman in Pill
11:00am Wednesday 29th August 2012 in Gwent news
A DOG owner whose animal savaged a woman's arm was jailed for nine months under tough new sentencing powers - the first time they have been used in Gwent.
Jobless Kirk John Fleming, 31, of Alexandra Road, Newport, was sentenced under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, using new guidelines for courts in England and Wales which came into force on August 20.
The court heard it had cost Gwent Police more than £10,000 to keep Fleming's dogs in designated kennels since the incident in September last year.
The victim underwent three operations and spent a week in hospital after what Judge William Gaskell described as a sustained and repeated attack.
Fleming had already admitted owning a white Pitbull-Mastiff cross which had caused injury and was dangerously out of control in a public place, when he appeared before Cardiff Crown Court yesterday.
The court heard how the complainant, Kay Piatek was walking her three Yorkshire Terriers in Pill on September 24, 2011.
Mrs Piatek turned onto Mendalgief Road when a white Pitbull cross and a brown Staffordshire Terrier ran towards her. The Pitbull, known as Cain, jumped onto her back and knocked her over.
One of Mrs Piatek's dogs, Alfie, ran home and she was trying to protect another, Maxi, when Cain bit into her left arm.
The defendant then appeared, punching his own dog and lying on top of it, but Cain and the Staffordshire Terrier managed to get at Maxi and dragged him away before mauling him to death.
The third dog, Mitch, died shortly after the incident.
Mrs Piatek was treated at the Royal Gwent Hospital for open wounds on her left wrist and arm, and a broken left arm.
Fleming was taken to Newport Central Police Station and his dogs were seized.
The court heard about one of two previous incidents involving Cain, where the Pitbull jumped a garden fence and attacked a Labrador while a five-year-old boy was nearby.
Mr Smyth, mitigating, said Fleming had taken steps to secure the animals, and that the dogs had been taken out of the house by a trusted friend of the defendant's, not the defendant himself.
Mr Smyth said Fleming "bitterly regrets" the incident.
Judge William Gaskell told Fleming: "You've had previous incidents involving this dog and know the danger it represents.
"The consequences for the complainant are very serious, her arm was bitten down into sinew and bone.
"She is frightened to go out and walk her dogs for fear of meeting you and another one of your dogs. She describes herself as losing everything."
Judge Gaskell said Fleming had failed to respond to warnings.
"You effectively allowed the dog out through inadequate supervision," he said.
Fleming was sentenced to nine months in prison. The brown Staffordshire Terrier is currently involved in other proceedings but the white Pitbull, Cain, is to be destroyed and Fleming was disqualified from owning dogs for three years.
No order for compensation or costs was made because Fleming has not been employed for five years.
Fleming is the first person in the Gwent Police area to be sentenced using the new guidelines which came into force on August 20.
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that two people from Dyfed-Powys and one person from Barry in the South Wales Police area have been sentenced for dangerous dog offences since the guidelines were introduced.