A LITTLE girl picked up part of her mother's lip after it was bitten off when she was allegedly attacked by three collie dogs, a court heard yesterday.
Bernadette O'Leary's now-11-year-old daughter Eleanor kept 3cm of her mother's lower lip on ice but it could not be stitched back on in hospital, the High Court was told.
Ms O'Leary later underwent five operations for her injuries, which included a wound to her left arm.
She cannot smile without suffering severe pain and is now terrified of dogs as a result of the incident, it was claimed in court.
The attack occurred when Ms O'Leary was putting out washing in the back garden of her relatives' house where she and her family were staying on June 28, 2004.
Yesterday, Ms O'Leary and her husband Neil settled their High Court claim for damages against the owners of the dogs, their relatives Mary and Jeremiah Kelleher of 'Beechwood', Ballyshoneen, Waterfall, Co Cork; and against Michael Kelleher, also Ballyshoneen, who had been looking after the animals while the Kellehers were in Australia.
The O'Learys had been staying at Beechwood when the attack occurred.
The settlement was without admission of liability and was not disclosed.
However, the court heard that two of the O'Leary's five children, Eleanor and Conor (13), who witnessed the attack, are to receive €75,000 between them for trauma and shock as part of the settlement.
The defendants denied they were negligent and said the house was only to be used for a two-day period. They also claimed that at the time of the incident the plaintiff was a trespasser because she entered the back garden area when she had been told not to do so.
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told yesterday that the matter could be struck out with costs to the O'Learys.
Counsel for the O'Learys, of Augherea, Strokestown Road, Longford, told the court yesterday that the family were staying at the Cork house for three weeks while the Kellehers were in Australia.
Michael Kelleher was to look after the dogs, which were to be confined to the back garden.
Counsel said there was an issue about how the dogs were to be dealt with; but in order to get to the washing line, Ms O'Leary had to go in to the back garden.
While walking to the washing line she was surrounded by the dogs, knocked to the ground and bitten.The dogs continued to attack her until her husband, who was also injured, intervened.