Man sentenced over dog attack

Gisborne Courthouse. File picture by Rebecca Grunwell

THE owner of four dogs involved in a June 2016 attack on a boy in Emily Street was this week sentenced to four months home detention and ordered to pay $1000 for emotional harm.

Clint Cormac Ward, 44, who was sentenced in Gisborne District Court, had pleaded guilty to charges under the Dog Control Act (1996) in relation to three of the dogs, admitting he was the owner of dogs that seriously injured someone — his five-year-old grandson, who was visiting.

He was found guilty by Judge Haamiora Raumati in respect of a fourth dog — Mushroom, the mother of the others — after a judge-alone trial last year.

But Ward still maintains Mushroom was not involved in the attack.

A High Court injunction, for which Ward successfully applied last year, has for the meantime prevented the enactment of a court order for the destruction of the dog (her offspring were destroyed soon after the incident).

Mushroom has now been impounded by Gisborne District Council for about 18 months.

The court heard Ward was not home when his dogs, American Staffordshire bulldogs and all unregistered, attacked the boy.

The offence is one of strict liability so he is responsible nonetheless.

Could have caused death

Judge Raumati said the injuries caused were so serious that were it not for the intervention of two teenagers at the house, the boy could have been killed.

The boy had to be hospitalised.

Medical notes produced during the judge-alone trial included reference to a large, deep wound over the boy’s temple and another part of his head, and extensive abrasions and contusions to both thighs, with a puncture wound to one.
Judge Raumati agreed with the reparation figure, which had been suggested as part of the findings of a restorative justice conference.

Likewise, he agreed with counsel Jonathan Natusch that the court could not impose reparation for the cost of Mushroom’s impoundment, understood to currently stand at $10,164.

Gisborne Distict Council could not technically be viewed as a victim, Mr Natusch said.

Furthermore, Ward challenged whether the council’s seizure of the dog at the time had been lawful, Mr Natusch said.

Judge Raumati said the council would have to pursue the debt through the civil court.

Given the duration of the impoundment, which had been prolonged by Ward’s actions, he envisioned it would likely do so.

The judge noted Ward had only a limited criminal record, with no relevant prior convictions.

Community work, which might otherwise have been imposed, was not suitable as Ward was on ACC.

A police search of the property immediately after the attack resulted in Ward also being initially charged with cultivation of cannabis, unlawful possession of a firearm (in relation to a gun that was found) and possession of a methamphetamine pipe.

Police later withdrew those charges.

THE owner of four dogs involved in a June 2016 attack on a boy in Emily Street was this week sentenced to four months home detention and ordered to pay $1000 for emotional harm.

Clint Cormac Ward, 44, who was sentenced in Gisborne District Court, had pleaded guilty to charges under the Dog Control Act (1996) in relation to three of the dogs, admitting he was the owner of dogs that seriously injured someone — his five-year-old grandson, who was visiting.

He was found guilty by Judge Haamiora Raumati in respect of a fourth dog — Mushroom, the mother of the others — after a judge-alone trial last year.

But Ward still maintains Mushroom was not involved in the attack.

A High Court injunction, for which Ward successfully applied last year, has for the meantime prevented the enactment of a court order for the destruction of the dog (her offspring were destroyed soon after the incident).

Mushroom has now been impounded by Gisborne District Council for about 18 months.

The court heard Ward was not home when his dogs, American Staffordshire bulldogs and all unregistered, attacked the boy.

The offence is one of strict liability so he is responsible nonetheless.

Could have caused death

Judge Raumati said the injuries caused were so serious that were it not for the intervention of two teenagers at the house, the boy could have been killed.

The boy had to be hospitalised.

Medical notes produced during the judge-alone trial included reference to a large, deep wound over the boy’s temple and another part of his head, and extensive abrasions and contusions to both thighs, with a puncture wound to one.
Judge Raumati agreed with the reparation figure, which had been suggested as part of the findings of a restorative justice conference.

Likewise, he agreed with counsel Jonathan Natusch that the court could not impose reparation for the cost of Mushroom’s impoundment, understood to currently stand at $10,164.

Gisborne Distict Council could not technically be viewed as a victim, Mr Natusch said.

Furthermore, Ward challenged whether the council’s seizure of the dog at the time had been lawful, Mr Natusch said.

Judge Raumati said the council would have to pursue the debt through the civil court.

Given the duration of the impoundment, which had been prolonged by Ward’s actions, he envisioned it would likely do so.

The judge noted Ward had only a limited criminal record, with no relevant prior convictions.

Community work, which might otherwise have been imposed, was not suitable as Ward was on ACC.

A police search of the property immediately after the attack resulted in Ward also being initially charged with cultivation of cannabis, unlawful possession of a firearm (in relation to a gun that was found) and possession of a methamphetamine pipe.

Police later withdrew those charges.

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