Monday 23 January 2017

€15k damages for young girl (11) 'traumatised' after bite from Bichon Frise dog

Ray Managh

Published 15/07/2015 | 18:35

Erik and Deborah Field, parents of Ella Field who was the subject of a Civil Court action - pictured leaving court with their legal team Fiona Gallagher B.L (Background Right of pic) and Solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey (Background Left).Pic: Courts Collins
Erik and Deborah Field, parents of Ella Field who was the subject of a Civil Court action - pictured leaving court with their legal team Fiona Gallagher B.L (Background Right of pic) and Solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey (Background Left).Pic: Courts Collins
Erik and Deborah Field, parents of Ella Field who was the subject of a Civil Court action - pictured with their Solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey (background).Pic: Courts Collins
Anne Roche Kelly, co-owner of Misty who was the subject of a Civil Court action. Pic: Courts Collins

An 11-year-old schoolgirl, who was left traumatised after being bitten on her right calf by a neighbour’s dog, a Bichon Frise has been awarded damages against the dog’s owners in the Circuit Civil Court.

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Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said the dog, Misty, which had been “arrested” for several weeks by the Gardaí, should not have been allowed back in Ella Field’s apartment block, as she was terrified of it and had needed to readjust her life to avoid meeting Misty.

Judge Groarke said he was astonished that the possibility that Ella had bitten by Misty had not crossed the mind of its owners, John and Anne Roche Kelly, who had denied the incident ever happened. 

He said he had no doubt Mr Roche Kelly had been in control of Misty, who had been kept on a leash, but it was in the nature of young dogs of this breed to make a nuisance of themselves around children and adults alike.

Anne Roche Kelly, co-owner of Misty who was the subject of a Civil Court action. Pic: Courts Collins
Anne Roche Kelly, co-owner of Misty who was the subject of a Civil Court action. Pic: Courts Collins

The court heard that in June 2013, Ella had been returning from her granny’s and had been roller-skating back to her apartment block door at Sandyford View, Blackglen Road, Dublin, when she met Mr Roche Kelly and Misty.

Ella told her barrister, Fiona Gallagher, who appeared in court with CM Haughey solicitors, that Misty had been barking when she was waiting for Mr Roche Kelly to open the front entrance door to the block. The dog had bitten her while she passed inside.

After Ella had reached her apartment, her father, Eric, had asked Roche Kelly to come to their apartment to have a look at Ella’s injury. Roche Kelly had denied Ella, who was nine-years-old at the time, had been bitten by Misty and alleged she had fallen while roller-skating.

Ella had been taken to Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, by her mother, Deborah Field, where her wound was cleaned and dressed.

Erik and Deborah Field, parents of Ella Field who was the subject of a Civil Court action - pictured with their Solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey (background).Pic: Courts Collins
Erik and Deborah Field, parents of Ella Field who was the subject of a Civil Court action - pictured with their Solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey (background).Pic: Courts Collins

Mr Field told the court he had informed Ms Roche Kelly that Misty had charged down the stairs and nipped at him and his wife a couple of times.

Barrister Ms Gallagher said that although Ella was still fond of dogs, she had developed a fear of Misty.

The court heard she was panicking every time she saw him and had needed to exit her ground-floor apartment through her balcony, until the Roche Kelly’s moved to a different block in the same complex. Ella said she would still be terrified when she met Misty.

Judge Groarke said he was glad he had heard the evidence of Dr Ciara Martin, consultant in paediatric emergency medicine at Tallaght Hospital, who said the injury had been consistent with a dog bite.

The judge said the evidence of Ella and her parents had been compelling, and he was satisfied Ella had been bitten while Mr Roche Kelly was holding the door for her.

He said Ella had developed a very serious psychological trauma. Having been told the wound had left a scar, he awarded her €15,000 damages. 

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