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European appeal is lodged to save Dino

AN APPEAL to save the life of GSD ‘Dino’, sentenced to death by Magistrates under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act for a minor biting offence has been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

As reported previously in OUR DOGS, Dino was sentenced to death by Northampton Magistrates in 2001 after his owner Carol Lamont pleaded guilty to a minor biting incident under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, arising from an incident when Dino got into a fight with another dog whilst out walking in January of that year and the other dog’s owner was nipped in the ensuing fracas.

The decision to prosecute under the DDA was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service, although several Home Office circulars have issued guidelines to state that minor incidents of this nature should be prosecuted under the less draconian 1871 Dogs Act.

Through the Fury Defence Fund, Mrs Lamont engaged well-known DDA expert solicitor Trevor Cooper to act on their behalf. Mr Cooper lodged an appeal and challenged the destruction order at Northampton Crown Court in September 2001, but the judge upheld the magistrates' decision, saying that Dino had attacked the other dog without any provocation and continued to pose a danger to public safety.

Following two High Court appeals, Dino’s case was then referred to the House of Lords Judicial Office just after Christmas to see whether permission would be granted for an appeal to the House of Lords itself.

After the long and agonising delay, the Lords Judicial Committee told Mr Cooper in April of this year that the Lamonts’ request for leave to appeal had been refused. No reasons were given, nor, according to the law governing such appeals, do reasons need to be given to appellants.

"There is no way for us now, at least not in England and Wales, as the judicial process is now exhausted" Mr Cooper said. "We have done everything we can as far as the English courts are concerned. Our only possible hope is the European Court which
The legal battle to save Dino’s life has taken over 18 months to date and has cost Lamonts over £20,000. However, the couple have always said they will never give up on their dog.

Earlier this week, Mr Cooper told OUR DOGS that the European appeal had been formally lodged and given a case number. The case will now be placed before a judge who will act as the ‘rapporter’ in deciding whether the case has sufficient merit for further consideration.

This being so, the case will then be placed before a legal committee who will make a preliminary ruling as to whether the case is valid to be heard by the European Court itself.

"If the committee were to decide to the contrary, then the whole case would end then and there," said Mr Cooper. "It will take about three weeks for the committee to make their decision and then notify us. Obviously, we remain hopeful that the appeal can proceed and Dino’s life will be spared."