The man who commanded his dog to attack a Greymouth publican after he was asked to remove the dog from the bar was yesterday jailed for four years and four months in the Greymouth District Court yesterday.
The vicious attack at the Railway Hotel on May 12 was described by Judge Charles Blackie as deliberate, cruel and prolonged.
William James Andrews, 26, an import to the West Coast who was living in Runanga at the time, had previously admitted a number of charges relating to the dog attack, including injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assaulting a female, possession of a knife and owning a dog that caused injury or death.
The dog, a pitbull, has since been destroyed.
Andrews punched the 68-year-old publican in the back of the head, causing him to fall to the ground and then commanded the dog to attack. The victim suffered wounds to the leg, arms, torso and head.
Police prosecutor Glenn Henderson said it was a serious attack that carried a maximum penalty of 10 years' jail.
"(Andrews) used a dog in the attack, which makes it one of the most serious offences of its kind," Henderson said.
He gave Andrews credit for his prompt guilty pleas.
"However, there are a number of issues which take that credit away, including the initial assault when Anderson punched the victim, which felled him to the floor."
The punch was to the back of the head and following than, the violence escalated.
"Once the victim fell to the ground there were further attacks from Andrews and his dog has been used as a weapon."
The effects on the victim had been significant and he had been left with scars.
"The victim is a 68-year-old man who was at work and all he did was ask for the dog to
be removed - the victim was attacked for no reason."
Lawyer Doug Taffs took issue with the police submission that the victim had been king hit.
"I take exception to the emotive use of king hit. The defendant did not king hit the victim. He punched him and the victim was not knocked unconscious, nor did he suffer significant head injuries," Taffs said.
Andrews admitted the attack was an unjustified "disgusting episode" and he was ashamed of it.
"Mitigating factors, included the extraordinarily early pleas of guilty, the defendant's remorse and the fact he had had a handwritten apology delivered to the victim, which was heartfelt," Taffs said.
Andrews had also taken his dog to the council and it was put down.
"He didn't beat around the bush and try to hide the dog, like some people would have to avoid it," Taffs said.
The offending was out of character and he suggested to the judge a jail term of four years or less would be a suitable sentence.
Judge Charles Blackie said for some reason Andrews took his dog to the hotel - a pitbull, "a dog which was universally vicious and should only be out in public muzzled and categorised as a dangerous".
"That was a deliberate decision. You then drunk 12 pints -- equal to one and a half gallons in the old terms. I'm not surprised you were asked to take the dog outside," Judge Blackie said.
"You took offence and punched the publican with quite a severe blow to the back of the head, then you commanded your dog to attack him, and it obeyed."
The judge said the dog started biting the victim on his legs, moved up his torso and arms.
"At the same time you were standing over him punching the victim and encouraging the dog, saying 'good boy, good boy'. The victim had to protect himself to avoid being bitten on the throat. Then the dog latched on to his head and was lashing from side to side."
The publican's wife was also attacked when she attempted to help her husband. She was also bitten by the dog and punched in the face by Andrews.
"When you were spoken to by the police, you said you couldn't remember too much. That's easy to say, but hard to accept," the judge said.
He gave him credit for accepting responsibility but said both victims had been traumatised and while they may recover from their injuries, they may not recover psychologically.
Judge Blackie said the sentence needed to deter him as well and others who thought it was okay to commit such an attack. In one previous similar case, the owner had been sentenced to eight and a half years jail.
"They, however, were charged with wounding with intent, not injuring."
Along with the jail term, Andrews was ordered not to own a dog of any breed for the next five years.
"If you want an animal, buy a cat," the judge said.
- Greymouth Star