A former couple have been jailed after a Bradford toddler had to undergo emergency life-saving brain surgery following a dog attack in the city five years ago.
The man and woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the youngster, were sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on Wednesday after a judge said the young girl could have died had she not received prompt medical attention. The child suffered multiple skull fractures and bleeding on the brain after she was “mauled” at the Bradford house by a German Shepherd bitch which had recently given birth to puppies.
Recorder Patrick Palmer highlighted the fact that a family key worker had earlier warned the mum about the potential dangers. He said the worker visited the home again a week before the attack and after seeing the puppies in the kitchen she repeated her advice not to leave their two dogs alone with the children.
But the court heard that while the mum was upstairs she called her partner and he left the toddler unattended downstairs. After the female dog’s attack on the child there was an eight minute delay before the mum called 999 and told the operator that her daughter had been “mauled” by the animal and was drifting in and out of consciousness.
Prosecutor John Hobley said an ambulance and police officers arrived at the house and after the girl was taken to the Bradford Royal Infirmary she was transferred to a hospital in Leeds where she had significant brain surgery to drain the bleeds and save her life. A further examination of the child revealed bruising to her shoulders, back, legs and arms which an expert concluded were unlikely to have been caused in the dog attack.
The police officers who attended at the house found it was unclean and messy with an overpowering smell of urine. When the couple were drug tested they were found to have taken cocaine and amphetamine and Mr Hobley said they had been exercising their parental responsibilities with drugs in their system.
The mum pleaded guilty to two child cruelty charges relating to her general neglect and the eight-minute delay in calling the ambulance that night. Her former partner admitted being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control and had caused injury to the child.
The mum was today jailed for 18 months and her ex-partner was locked up for 12 months. The court heard that the female dog had subsequently been destroyed.
Barrister Lydia Pearce, for the mum, said her client was in a blind panic when she made the 999 call and after being warned about the dogs she had been trying to re-home them. Miss Pearce submitted that her client had changed her life significantly since the incident and urged Recorder Palmer to consider suspending any jail sentence.
Barrister Harry Crowson, for the male defendnant, said he had accepted responsibility for the “massive oversight” of leaving the dog in the company of the child alone. He conceded it was a “very serious lapse of judgement”.
Recorder Palmer noted that a paediatrician had concluded that the young girl had been subjected to “severe neglect” in advance of the dog attack. He told the male defendant: ”You failed to stay with (the child) when there were those dogs in the house and you failed to protect her from them.”
The judge said he had been urged to pass suspended sentences, but he had to bear in mind that the child needed “life-saving emergency brain surgery”. He added: “She could have died had she not received prompt medical attention. Appropriate punishment can only be achieved by immediate imprisonment.”
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