Out-of-control dog attacked Fife pensioner (77) outside her home


A 77-year-old Dunfermline woman was attacked, bitten and badly injured outside her home by a neighbour’s dog.

James Thomson’s “complete ignorance” about how to look after dogs had led to the incident when it was dangerously out of control, a sheriff commented.

Thomson admitted he would not take the dog out into the street or a park in case it attacked somebody. He only walked it in his garden and the communal area around his home.

The German Shepherd, called Rocco, had previously bitten a SSPCA inspector and since being taken into kennels it has been highly aggressive and has bitten staff on several occasions. It will now be destroyed because of the danger it poses.

Thomson (52), of Bleachfield Court, denied that on 29th September at rear gardens at Bleachfield Court, being the owner of a German Shepherd, the dog was dangerously out of control whereby it ran towards Mary Grainger, then aged 77, circled around her, barked aggressively and bit her on the body, to her injury.

The victim had to be taken to hospital for treatment for her bite wounds and the court was shown photographs of the puncture marks and bruising.

Mrs Grainger told the court she was putting rubbish in her bin when the dog attacked her.

She said that after she was bitten, Thomson had come to her door and said, “You’re not going to have my dog put down because of a scratch.”

The witness went on, “The blood was running down my leg. I said, ‘That’s not a scratch’. I took my husband’s arm and shut the door.”

SSPCA inspector Sarah Gregory (35) told the court of an occasion when she was bitten by the same dog.

She had gone to Thomson’s previous home, a flat in Fernie Place, Dunfermline, following a report from a neighbour in July 2015.

The dog “became more vocal, an aggressive sort of bark and was staring straight at me” before it jumped up and bit on the arm of her jacket, she told the court,

“It lunged up and bit on my sleeve. It leapt up in a bear hug fashion, took hold of my jacket and bit down on my arm,” she recalled. The thickness of her protective sleeve prevented injury.

When Thomson gave evidence he accused the victim of making up the story of being bitten, that his dog had only jumped up on her and claimed the injury photos were fakes.

He described Rocco as being “not stranger-friendly” after being trapped in a house fire at their previous home.

He had only moved to Bleachfield Court last year and claimed Mrs Grainger “would always be at the back door shouting abuse at me”.

He said on the day of the incident he had Rocco on an extension lead in the back garden.

“I was pulled over and the lead snapped. The dog was jumping about, happy and excited. I didn’t see him bite her.”

Thomson also claimed the SSPCA officer had not been bitten.

Sheriff Craig McSherry found Thomson guilty and told him, “I’m surprised how ignorant you are about dogs.” He described Thomson’s version of what happened as “absolutely incredible”.

Depute fiscal Alex Piper moved for a destruction order for the dog and read a report from the owner of the kennels where it is being kept currently.

There have been several bites on staff at the kennels and the dog has to be moved around using poles.

“She says he has to be handled like a lion,” said Ms Piper.

“She says that she would never release this dog back into the public again.”

Sheriff McSherry said, “This is because of Mr Thomson’s complete ignorance. There is no hope for this dog now.”

He said “with great reluctance” he would order the dog’s destruction. The sheriff called for reports and Thomson will be sentenced on 21st June.

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