‘Softie’ ben spared a death sentence

Julie Scriven, Falkirk Grove, Wigan with pet rotweiller Ben
Julie Scriven, Falkirk Grove, Wigan with pet rotweiller Ben

A DOG has been spared the death sentence after it bit a child on the buttock.

Rotweiller Ben injured the nine-year-old boy as he played near his home in March Green.

But his owner, Julie Scriven, says the court was right not to destroy her pet, because he is “a softie”.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Ms Scriven, 36, of Falkirk Grove, Norley Hall, had previously been warned by housing officials and two police community support officers about having her two dogs out without leads.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, said the dogs, Ben and Molly, a bull mastiff, were again off the lead on a field at the rear of Marsh Green on November 18 last year.

Molly jumped up at the boy, who was with his mother, and knocked a ball out of his hands. Ben ran behind him and, as the boy panicked, bit him on a buttock

The court heard Scriven was not trying to shout the dogs back.

The boy was very upset and his mother had to carry him home. When interviewed 10 days later, Scriven said the dogs had wanted to play, and when the boy screamed, two-year-old Ben might have bitten him in fright.

She pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to being in charge of dog which caused injury, while dangerously out of control.

After the hearing, Scriven said: “I let them have a run if no one seems to be around. That’s where I’m guilty, as I know I should not have let them do that.

“I didn’t realise how scary he may seem for people, because my dogs are such softies. I didn’t see him bite the child, and from the photo, I could not see anything.

“It was my fault for letting him off the lead. I am aware of my actions, and I am deeply sorry.

“I would have been very sad if Ben was put down. He is a really happy dog, a bit dozy, but quite clever and very sociable, and the man who assessed him agreed.

“He is not at all vicious – I did not bring him up that way.”

She also admitted two Bail Act offences, and the court heard she has 26 previous similar offences.

Judge John Roberts placed her under supervision for 12 months, and ordered her to attend an alcohol treatment course.

He also made a contingent destruction order under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, and if she does not keep Ben under control, he will be destroyed.

The conditions of this order include having him neutered within a month, microchipped, making her garden areas secure, attending dog training classes and ensuring he is only taken out with a muzzle, harness, strong leads and a collar.

Steven Swift, defending, said Scriven had been in custody for three weeks awaiting sentence and had been responding well to a community order made in January for two offences of assault.