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Girl (11) left with scars after 'nasty attack' by farmer's dog

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A farmer in Co Antrim has been fined £500 after his collie dog attacked and bit an 11-year-old girl.

Drew Strange (61), of Tildarg Road near Ballyclare, pleaded guilty to being in charge of the animal involved in the incident, which happened on July 22, 2019.

Yesterday, Ballymena Magistrates Court was told that at around 7.30pm the girl was walking with her friend - the defendant's daughter - towards the Strange farm.

A collie-type dog ran at her and jumped on her causing her to fall backwards.

The animal then bit her on the left arm, and as she ran away, prosecution lawyer Cathy Grant said, "the dog bit her on her left buttock."

The girl went to her own home and was taken to Antrim Area Hospital where she received staples and was "left with scarring" following the bites.

Ms Grant, appearing on behalf of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council who brought the prosecution, said: "Her parents advise that she has suffered anxiety and flashbacks as a result of the incident."

The court heard that when a council enforcement officer visited the farm the defendant said he had already had the dog "put to sleep" following the incident.

This was confirmed to the local authority by a vet.

In a letter to the council, the defendant "apologised" for the incident.

The prosecutor said they were not seeking a 'Disqualification Order'. She said it was a strict liability offence, which meant that either the keeper of a dog, or another person in charge of the dog, is liable.

Defence barrister Malcolm Irvine said it was acknowledged it was a "serious" incident that should not have happened.

Mr Irvine said the defendant, a married father of two teenage daughters, was a dairy farmer and had no previous criminal convictions.

Following the attack, Mr Irvine said the defendant "did what many in his position do not do".

"That is to say he immediately made arrangements to have the dog humanely destroyed with his own vet, notwithstanding the considerable anguish that caused to both himself and to his family," he said.

Mr Irvine said the defendant had entered a guilty plea and was fully insured, with the insurance company "looking after the civil side of things".

Mr Irvine said it was accepted the injuries "were nasty" and it was a "source of great regret" that the incident happened - especially as the girl was a neighbour and a "good friend of his daughter's".

District Judge Nigel Broderick told the defendant - who appeared at court via a video link from his solicitor's office - that it had been "a very unfortunate incident".

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The judge added: "This young girl through no fault of her own has been left with some physical and emotional scars.

"If you had exercised perhaps more supervision of your dog then this incident may not have happened in the first place.

"Thankfully, the young girl will receive the relevant compensation through your insurance company."

The defendant was fined £500 and also ordered to pay court and professional costs of £144.


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