Elderly man fined after dog attacks boy who was retrieving football

front of ipswich magistrates court

Robert Fox was sentenced at Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Gregg Brown

An elderly dog owner has been left with a bill of more than £1,500 after his pet attacked a boy who was fetching a football in east Suffolk. 

Robert Fox, 84, appeared at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Friday and pleaded guilty to one count of being the person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury. 

Alex Hinds, prosecuting, told the court how the victim's family had enjoyed a day out at Sizewell beach on July 9, 2018. 

Upon returning to the car park around 4pm, the boy began kicking a football around on the grass, and the ball ended up near a motorhome. 

The victim went to fetch the ball and his mother said she saw two dogs laying on the ground near the vehicle, and the larger of the two moved towards her son. 

The mother said she then heard her son say "ow", and he began screaming and crying, and there was blood on his T-shirt. 

She said her son was holding his stomach and when she lifted his shirt up, there was lots of blood. 

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The victim suffered injuries to his torso/hip area and leg, Mr Hinds told magistrates. 

The dogs belonged to Fox and his wife, Caroline, 80, both of Pheasant Rise, Copdock, near Ipswich, and the pair were initially both charged with two dangerous dog offences. 

But at the hearing on Friday, one of the charges against Fox was withdrawn, and both charges against Mrs Fox were dropped by Mr Hinds. 

There had been a previous incident with the same dog, which was a lurcher/collie crossbreed, in 2016 when a child was attacked, the court heard. 

On that occasion, police advice was given with regard to muzzling the animal. 

In police interview, Fox, who had no previous convictions, told officers the dog was muzzled on the beach but not at the time of the incident. 

Dino Barricella, mitigating, told magistrates that the couple were "very responsible people" who had kept nine dogs over the course of their life. 

Mr Barricella said Fox pleaded guilty on the basis that "the boy had gone to the dog rather than dog to the boy". 

Magistrates fined Fox £733 and ordered him to pay £750 in compensation. 

He was also ordered to pay £105 in court costs and a victim surcharge of £73. 

Magistrates also made a contingent destruction order, which means Fox may keep the dog if there are no further incidents. It must also be muzzled at all times in public.