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€47,000 for woman savaged by her brother-in-law's dog

Catherine Masterson: was left with facial scarringHenry Masterson: told the court of his remorse

A WOMAN who was savaged by her brother-in-law's dog was yesterday awarded €46,987 in High Court damages.

Catherine Masterson (47), a care assistant, from Lanesboro, Co Longford, sued Henry Masterson of Park Avenue, Armthorpe, Doncaster, England, for damages as a result of the attack.

On May 28, 2002, near Knockcroghery in Roscommon, she was bitten on the face and hand. Liability was conceded and the case was before the court for assessment of damages only.

The court heard the dog was a Japanese Akita, which in the past was bred for killing bears.

Ms Masterson was left with significant scarring to her face and to a hand and she has been in fear of dogs ever since.

She said her brother-in-law was over on holiday and the dog was chained to his camper van as she walked by it. The animal suddenly leapt at her and she turned her back.

The next thing she knew, she said, the dog was "up on me on his hind legs" and she was knocked to the ground.

She tried to get away from the dog but "he kept coming at me", she said. She didn't realise that she had been bitten.

The dog kept mauling her until her brother-in-law pulled him off. Along with the bites to her chin and hand, five of her teeth were fractured.

It later emerged that the chain holding the dog had broken.

Her brother-in-law, Henry Masterson, who defended himself in court, told the court he had got the dog from the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and had previously had no reason to be concerned about it.

The dog had even been allowed to sleep with a five-month-old child, he said. Following the incident, he handed the dog back to the RSPCA and it has since been put down.

Mr Justice Michael Peart said Ms Masterson had suffered very serious injuries and that he was impressed by the genuine remorse and regret expressed by the defendant.

Irish Independent