A pitbull which attacked a 10-year-old boy in Rotorua must be
destroyed and its owner punished, a judge has ruled.
Johnny Edwards, 34, appeared in the Rotorua District Court
this week after previously pleading guilty to a charge of
being the owner of a dog which caused serious injury to a
child. He was sentenced to 180 hours' community work - the
maximum available - and an order was made for the male
American pitbull terrier-cross to be destroyed.
According to the police summary of facts, the attack happened
on September 22 last year on Wrigley Rd, Fordlands.
Edwards and his dog were inside a house but when Edwards left
the room, a child let the dog out where it roamed
uncontrolled on the street.
The dog went on to a property, where a 10-year-old was
playing and attacked him, causing several puncture wounds to
his left arm and left upper thigh/buttock area. A member of
the public pulled the dog off the boy, who was taken to
hospital for medical treatment.
Judge Jocelyn Munro said Edwards had attended restorative
justice sessions with the victim's family, which had been
positive. She noted the family did not want any further
penalty imposed on Edwards, other than destruction of the
She said that while the boy had not suffered long-lasting
physical damage it would have been a "truly terrifying"
experience for him that could have turned out much worse.
The judge said Edwards' lawyer, Rachelle Cavanagh, had
submitted not too much blame should be placed on her client
because he didn't know the dog had been let outside.
"I do not fully accept that. You have a responsibility to
ensure that dog is properly restrained and to simply leave it
free in a house where there are children ... is a lack of
responsibility on your part."
She told Edwards he could have been imprisoned for failing to
keep the dog, which was not classified as dangerous and had
not attacked before, secure.
The judge said as Edwards, who has previous criminal
convictions, was already subject to 220 hours' community work
she was only able to impose 180 more.
Sentencing will take place on April 11 for Rotorua woman
Philomena Marcelle Matthews, 37, who has pleaded guilty to
the same charge as Edwards. In a separate incident on
December 15 last year, also in Fordlands, her pitbull
attacked and seriously injured an 18-month-old girl.
- By Katie Holland of the Daily Post