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Family fumes as justice delayed for two years in dog attack case

By Joanne Carroll

Oracle Brampton and mum Athena Moana Wepiha-Reo.  Photo / Doug Sherring
Oracle Brampton and mum Athena Moana Wepiha-Reo. Photo / Doug Sherring

The family of a boy who was bitten in the face by a dog is angry that the owner has yet to be sentenced 18 months after the attack.

Oracle Brampton was 3 years old when he tried to pat the dog outside a video store in West Auckland back in March last year. Security camera footage showed the dog lunge at the toddler, delivering a single bite that caused facial injuries.

The owner of the Staffordshire terrier cross, Toby Conway, faces a maximum penalty of three years' jail, a $20,000 fine, or both. His dog Stan faces being put down.

Conway has pleaded guilty and was due in the Waitakere District Court to be sentenced on Tuesday. However, his lawyer told the court he could not appear because he was sick.

The little boy's family believe Conway is delaying the court process to keep his dog alive as long as possible.

Oracle's mother Athena Moana Wepiha-Reo is angry Conway has not apologised directly, and that he has blamed her son. "He said parents should teach children not to pet dogs but he should not have left the dog sitting across the shop doorway so we couldn't get into the shop," she said.

In court this week, lawyer Peter Boylan said Conway had been working outside for long periods with a movie crew and had a "terrible chill".

He tried to hand Judge Claire Ryan a DVD with footage of Conway's dog but she refused to accept it, saying it would have to be played in open court when Conway is sentenced.

The judge said the case would be adjourned until February 4, almost two years since the incident. She said the delays had been "excessive".

"I am entirely unsatisfied. I had directed a restorative justice conference take place but it has not. In the public interest, and in the general interest of the court, I expect it to be done," she said.

- Herald on Sunday

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