A danger dog was today sentenced to death after his owner was found guilty after the huge American Akita burst into a garden and savaged a 13-year-old girl while she played on her trampoline.
Brian Ralph’s dog – named Chaos by his owner – left the girl scarred for life, biting her 16 times after chewing through her trampoline before she fled for her home.
But he denied a charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act in relation to the incident – claiming he had a “reasonable belief” his 80-year-old gran was a “fit and proper” person to care for the dog, described as “muscular and powerful”.
Margaret Deas had left the dog shut out in the garden as she sat watching Emmerdale, oblivious to the horrific attack the massive animal was carrying out just yards away.
Today, Ralph was convicted of being the owner of a dog that was dangerously out of control.
A sheriff banned him from having custody of a dog for a year, ordered the destruction of the dog and told Ralph to pay £1,000 compensation to the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Speaking outside court her mother branded Ralph and his family “liars” – but welcomed the order that the dog be destroyed.
She said: “The destruction of the dog is a god send.
“His dad said he would welcome the dog back into the family. We were worried it would be back.
“A simple sorry and the dog being destroyed would have done at the start.
“But to put my daughter through all that… They stood up there and told a pack of lies.
“My daughter is still seeing a psychologist and she will be scarred for life.
“She’s lost confidence and she doesn’t want to go out on her own.
“The dog could have killed her if the neighbour hadn’t intervened.”
The victim – now aged 14 – told a trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court that she thought she was going to die when Chaos attacked.
Giving evidence, she said the animal had been barking in the garden before chewing down a fence and squeezing through.
Chaos then roamed round her garden before walking underneath the trampoline and biting the fabric she was bouncing on.
Describing the horrific attack that followed, she said: “He came up and jumped on top of me.
“He put his paw right down my back – right down the middle.
“I landed on my back and Chaos was trying to bite me on my face.
“I put my hands up to protect myself and he started biting my arms repeatedly.
“I ended up with 13 bites on my left arm and three on my right.
“I was screaming and shouting for help.”
The girl added: “I thought I was going to die – I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
“When I took my jumper off all I could see was bitemarks and blood everywhere.”
Ralph told the court he had left the dog in the care of his frail 80-year-old grandmother Margaret Deas.
She told the court that she had left the dog lying on slabs outside her back door in Lomond Gardens, Methil, and “accidentally” closed the door behind her as she went to watch her evening soaps.
But minutes later the animal had chewed through a fence and launched the vicious attack on the defenceless girl.
Ralph himself denied that he knew his dog had a “propensity” for aggression.
During his evidence Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC asked Ralph: “Where did the dog’s name, Chaos, come from?”
Ralph claimed one of his two children had come up with it, adding: “He was always up to mischief and stuff.”
The sheriff asked: “But you didn’t call him Mischief, you called him Chaos?”
Ralph began to reply “Mischief doesn’t sound very…” before failing to finish his sentence.
Ralph, 24, of Methil, Fife, denied a charge of being the owner of a dog that was dangerously out of control in Lomond Gardens, Methil, on July 20 last year.
Giving closing submissions fiscal depute Nicola Henderson urged the sheriff to convict Ralph of the charge.
After a three-day trial Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC found him guilty.
Defence solicitor Brian McCafferty said: “He has a limited record and nothing analogous.
“He doesn’t oppose the destruction of the dog – the enormity of this has sunk in.”
Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC ordered Ralph to pay £1,000 compensation to the girl, ordered the destruction of the dog and banned Ralph from having custody of a dog for a year.
He said: “Your dog caused very serious injuries to a child.
“People should not have control of these large, powerful dogs unless they take very careful steps to ensure they are properly looked after and don’t pose a risk of injury to others.”