Woman’s fury at sentence given to killer dog’s owner

A DISTRAUGHT Angus woman yesterday condemned the “lenient” sentence handed to a man whose illegal pitbull killed her beloved dog.

Jacqueline Stewart (74), from Sidlaw Avenue, Arbroath, was left with bite wounds as her papillon Holly was killed by a pitbull terrier owned by Derek Hutchins (28).

The dog locked its jaws round Holly and violently shook her.

The papillon suffered a broken femur and pelvis in the attack outside Mrs Stewart’s home in June and had to be put to sleep as a result of her injuries.

Hutchins (28), of Brothock Way, was yesterday fined £720 by Sheriff John Halley at the town’s sheriff court and was banned from keeping dogs for a period of 70 weeks.

Mrs Stewart said she and her husband, Jim (79) were disgusted by the verdict.

“It’s a terrible decision and there doesn’t seem like there’s any justice but there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re so fed up.

“I’m still broken-hearted about what happened to Holly and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it and the way it happened.

“How is someone like Derek Hutchins going to pay a £720 fine? It’s us the taxpayers that will end up paying that for him.

“I can’t believe that he’ll be allowed to own another dog in just over a year. He can’t look after himself. How can he keep a dog under control?

“My Holly is gone now but next time it could be a child his dogs attack.”

Hutchins admitted owning the unlicensed animal, contrary to dangerous dogs legislation. He also admitted being in control of the dog when it attacked Holly and Mrs Stewart.

Mrs Stewart had just returned from Ninewells Hospital with her husband Jim when she decided to take Holly and her other dog Tilly for a walk.

The brown Staffie was not on a lead and the attack only stopped when drug addict Hutchins heard Mrs Stewart’s screams and dragged it away.

It was not until she got to the police station that she noticed blood was spurting out of her hands.

She was taken to the infirmary and puncture wounds on two fingers were bandaged up and she was given a tetanus jab.

Mrs Stewart said: “My husband and I don’t have any children and Holly was like part of the family. She went wherever I went. I can still hear her screams it was a terrible way for her to go.

“It all happened so quickly but she was just savaged. She didn’t stand a chance.

Sentencing Hutchins, the sheriff said: “I’m keen to ensure there will be no scope for any repeat of this episode.

“I’m going to impose disqualification for a period of 70 weeks, discounted from 78 weeks because of your early guilty plea.”

Ian Robb of Angus Dog Rescue described the outcome of the case as “disappointing”.

“The fine is quite substantial but will we see that being paid?” he commented.

“The ban is also pretty immaterial in terms of its length because the council has imposed its own ban on this man keeping dogs in a council property.

“We worked with the council’s housing department on this and I am hopeful in the future they may well take a tougher line with tenants who do not keep their dogs under control and cause problems for other residents and the general public.”

gstrachan@thecourier.co.uk

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