Woman sentenced over savage dog attack

By Peter Franklin of the Horowhenua Chronicle

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A Kapiti woman has escaped a custodial sentence for her part in a savage dog attack which left two Otaki woman physically and emotionally scarred.

Kelly Murray, 21, appeared today before Judge Gerrard Lynch in the Levin District Court. She was sentenced to three months' home detention and 75 hours' community service, with a recommendation that the term be carried out at an animal shelter like the SPCA.

Murray was also ordered to pay each of the victims $500 for emotional harm.

Judge Lynch read out parts of the victim impact statements in which Glenys Richardson, 67, who suffered a deep bite to her thigh, said it was a huge challenge for her now when a dog approached, and she also felt disfigured.

Both victims were attacked by the roaming pitbull terriers outside their Moana Street homes on November 28 last year.

Julie Harrison, 48, suffered the first attacked when a two-year-old pitbull went for her followed by a 9-month-old of the same breed.

She lost a finger tip, part of her nose, had tendons severed, and her forearm suffered lacerations and muscle damage. She managed to get to her front door, dragging one of the dogs, its teeth locked on her thigh. The animal only let go when she slammed its head in the door three times.

``I was literally a dog's breakfast,'' she told the Horowhenua Chronicle earlier this year.

Hearing Ms Harrison's screaming, Mrs Richardson went to her rescue only to be met by one of the marauding dogs. It latched onto the back of her right thigh, destroying part of her hamstring, and parts of her index finger and thumb. One of the dogs was lunging with pieces of flesh in its mouth. Mrs Richardson said she had seen bits of her flesh on the road.

Both women have received extensive medical treatment for their injuries.

Judge Lynch said that while Murray did not own the dogs she was actually in control of them. She allowed them to roam.

In his summing up Judge Lynch took into account Murray's remorse and her willingness to pay reparation for harm the victims had suffered.

He also noted the fact that she had now parted from her partner and had a 3-year-old child to support.

The dog's owner, Floyd Richards, 25, escaped a custodial sentence when he appeared for sentencing in Levin District Court in August.

He was sentenced to 200 hours' community service and four months' community detention, ordered to pay $3400 reparation and given a curfew which allowed him to continue working so he could pay the money.

Richards had been working out of the region at the time of the attack and left the dogs in the care of Murray. They were jointly charged under the Dog Control Act

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