THE FATE of a dog sentenced to death by magistrates for an accidental biting incident may end happily now that the case may be sent for re-trial, following intervention by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
As reported previously in OUR DOGS, the case of GSD Dino has rumbled on for over three years after Dino got into a fight with another dog on 9th January 2001, during which the other dog’s owner was bitten. Although Dino’s registered owner is Carol Lamont, pictured above with Dino, it was her husband Bryan who was subsequently charged of "allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place" under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Mr Lamont from East Hunsbury, Northampton, was advised by his solicitor to plead guilty to the charge when the case was heard at Northampton Magistrates Court in July 2001.
Magistrates accepted the plea and ordered that Dino be destroyed, even though this was the dog’s first and only offence. They also fined Mr Lamont £100 and ordering him to pay £2,552 to the other dog owner in compensation.
The Lamonts subsequently sacked their original solicitor and engaged Trevor Cooper to act on their behalf. Mr Cooper challenged the destruction order at Northampton Crown Court in September 2001, but Mr Recorder Edelman upheld the magistrates' decision, saying that Dino had attacked the other dog without any provocation and "continued to pose a danger to public safety".
Subsequent appeals to the High Court and House of Lords have all been rejected, with the CPS and judiciary maintaining that the magistrate’s interpretation of the law was correct.
Dino’s case was sent for appeal in the European Courts at the end of 2002.
That appeal was refused in April 2004, although this news was held back by Trevor Cooper who decided to pursue a further line of appeal.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body which investigates suspected miscarriages of justice. They have the power to review sentences and refer them back to Court for reconsideration. However, it is necessary for there to be new evidence for them to intervene. Mr Cooper’s application submitted to the Commission emphasised that Dino had done nothing wrong in the 3-_ years since the incident and this was proof that Dino was not a danger to public safety.
Additional experts reports concerning Dino’s temperament were supplied from vet Trevor Turner and animal behaviourist Dr Roger Mugford. The Commission examined the evidence and concluded: "…there is a real possibility that the destruction order…would not be upheld if it were referred" and so have sent the case back to Northampton Crown Court for an appeal against the destruction order.
No date for the appeal has yet been set. In the meantime – and unusually in a long-running DDA case - Dino has continued to live at home and there have been no further allegations as to his behaviour.
Trevor Cooper said "The DDA has produced some harsh destruction orders since 1991 but since the introduction of the Amendment Act in 1997 such orders have become relatively rare. Despite this, we have not yet been able to convince a Court that Dino is not a danger to the public. The Criminal Cases Review Commission have (for the first time) referred a DDA case for an appeal. This has been a difficult time for the family as they never knew if each day would be Dino’s last. There has always been the fear that the Police may have enforced the destruction order. We have a fantastic team of experts supporting us in this appeal (Mike Mullan, Trevor Turner and Roger Mugford) and hopefully we shall be able to have the destruction order revoked".
OUR DOGS will continue to report any further developments in Dino’s case, which is now the longest-running Section 3 DDA case.