Mildenhall man wins three year fight to have death sentence on dog lifted

Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001
Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001
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A Mildenhall man has won a three year legal fight to have a death sentence on his pet dog lifted.

The life of Bruno, a rescued German Shepherd, had been hanging in the balance since 2012 when magistrates heard how it had bitten a woman and a cyclist in separate incidents.

As a result of the incidents, magistrates ruled that Bruno should be destroyed and owner Kenton Hooker was handed a conditional discharge and ordered to pay compensation.

Hooker, 51, of Selwyn Close, Mildenhall, had pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control on The Heath, Mildenhall in November 2011.

Cyclist Christine Barton was bitten by Bruno on the leg while pedestrian Michael Clark was walking along a footpath when he was bit on the thigh.

An initial appeal in 2012 failed to have the destruction order lifted but the following year Hooker applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission which resulted in the case being referred to Ipswich Crown Court.

The court heard on Friday that the decision to allow a further appeal was based on reports from an animal behaviourist.

Judge Martyn Levett, sitting with two magistrates, heard evidence from the animal behaviourist and Hooker who described Bruno as ‘more of a companion than a pet’ and said he would comply with any orders to spare the dog’s life.

After considering the evidence, Judge Levett said the court had decided to lift the destruction order but warned Hooker that if the dog was not kept under adequate control when in a public place, the order would be reactivated.

As a condition of allowing the appeal, Hooker will have to keep Bruno muzzled when in public and on a non-extendable lead.

Explaining the decision to allow the appeal, Judge Levett said it was now considered Bruno had reached a suitable level of control that the risk of another biting incident had passed.