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Mastiff wins appeal

A MASTIFF that allegedly attacked a teenager was cleared of being a danger to the public after a court disallowed an appeal by the prosecution against its acquittal.

The dog, a four year-old male Mastiff named Beasley was alleged to have attacked 17 year-old Tamar Mills in June 2001 when she and her 16 year-old brother Aiden visited the home of Beasley’s owner Anthony Boulter. Miss Mills had gone to see her boyfriend who was staying at Mr Boulter’s house.

Miss Mills was play fighting with her boyfriend which caused Beasley to jump on her, along with Mr Boulter's Bullmastiff Arnie. Miss Mills claimed to have been bitten and sustained injuries to her stomach, bottom and back.

A complaint was made and the local authority Swale Borough Council launched a prosecution against Mr Boulter under the 1871 Dogs Act. The case was heard in April 2002 by magistrates in Sittingbourne, Kent.

The magistrates were not satisfied as to the extent of the injuries caused to Miss Mills by Beasley, as two dogs had been involved and eyewitnesses were unable to establish exactly which dog had inflicted which injuries.

Photographic evidence of Miss Mill’s injuries was consistent with scratching, rather than bites.

The magistrates also head that Beasley may have been provoked by the playfighting between Miss Mills and her boyfriend and wanted to join in. He was pulled away with relative ease and was not panting or barking during the alleged attack.

Magistrates also found that the evidence offered by Miss Mils and her brother was ‘inconsistent’.

Mr Boulter, a foster carer, claimed that Beasley had met over 30,000 people before the incident and a further 11,000 afterwards without showing any aggression towards anyone.

The magistrates dismissed the case and found Beasley not guilty.

Swale Borough Council lodged an appeal against the ruling, which was heard at London’s High Court at the end of October.

Mr Justice Maurice Kay heard arguments from the council’s barrister claiming that the magistrates were wrong to exclude contemporary medical evidence relating to Miss Mills’ injuries and to conclude that the photographs showed scratches rather than bites.

However, Mr Boulter’s barrister argued that the magistrates were rightly concerned with the lack of evidence relating to which dog had ‘attacked’ Miss Mills and also were perfectly entitled to reach the conclusion they had over the nature of the injuries.

Mr Justice Kay upheld the magistrate’s ruling, stating that the magistrates’ finding that Beasley as not dangerous was a reasonable one on the evidence presented to them.

Swale Borough Council were ordered to pay costs of more than £7,000. Duncan Milne, the Council’s chief solicitor commented after the case: “I am just amazed at the outcome. This is one of the worst dog biting cases I have ever come across in the last ten years.”