Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Orlando Shepherd withdraws guilty plea over dog attack on son

Orlando Shepherd with his son Shepherd Mea who was attacked by their dog in South Auckland on August 2, 2014. Photo / by Doug Sherring
Orlando Shepherd with his son Shepherd Mea who was attacked by their dog in South Auckland on August 2, 2014. Photo / by Doug Sherring

Since Orlando Shepherd's dog attacked his son, his life has been flipped.

It has been almost two years since the pitbull-mastiff cross inflicted severe facial injuries on the 6-year-old boy Shepherd Mea and the matter is still before the court.

Shepherd was charged with owning a dog that attacked a person.

He was subsequently thrown out of his Housing New Zealand property for violating the no-pets tenancy agreement, he then lived in cars and garages - and now Auckland Council want the court to lock him up.

Shepherd appeared in Manukau District Court this afternoon to be sentenced but instead he filed an application to withdraw his guilty plea.

He also sacked his lawyer - the third he has had - and vowed to take the case to the High Court and higher appeal courts if necessary.

Shepherd Mea's scars pictured on September 6, 2014 - a month after he was attacked. Photo / Doug Sherring
Shepherd Mea's scars pictured on September 6, 2014 - a month after he was attacked. Photo / Doug Sherring

A friend of his, described by prosecutor Richard Marchant as "a bush lawyer", explained outside court that the law was not being applied as it had been designed by parliament.

Rather than the prosecution having to prove Mr Shepherd's guilt, he said the onus had been reversed and the defendant appeared to have the responsibility to prove his innocence.

They wanted to change that, so that other people could receive a fair hearing, they said.

Shepherd previously told the Herald he got the dog, named Musha, to protect his Housing New Zealand property in Otahuhu, South Auckland, from burglars.

His son spent 10 days in intensive care at Middlemore Hospital after the incident and Shepherd said he was devastated about the events but was grateful that his son was recovering.

It all took place in the backyard of his former property where his boy was playing with the dog, "hanging off its tail and it was dragging him around".

"And they're saying it's my fault," Shepherd said.

Probation had interviewed the defendant before the proposed sentencing and Marchant highlighted issues within that report today.

"Mr Shepherd seems to think this is relatively minor offending," he said.

But the defendant disputed that.

"I've done a lot of things for my son and they don't want to hear that," Mr Shepherd said outside court.

"He shouldn't suffer anymore," his friend, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.

Mr Shepherd's application to withdraw his guilty plea will be heard in October.

- NZ Herald

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