Man cleared of setting dog on customer

PUBLISHED: 16:30 04 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

A NEWSAGENT has spoken of his relief at being cleared of setting his dog on a man with the mental age of a child and encouraging it to bite him.

A NEWSAGENT has spoken of his relief at being cleared of setting his dog on a man with the mental age of a child and encouraging it to bite him.

Bonaventure Vas, 53, owner of NLM Newsagents, in Holbrook, said: "I'm relieved it's been sorted out in the end, but I feel a lot of money has been wasted on something that should never have gone to court.

"A lot of my customers were supportive while I was waiting and the majority of people in the village are friendly."

The father-of-three had denied using threatening behaviour against Stephen Gunfield, 30, of Clench Road, Holbrook, who was said to have a mental age of between nine and 12.

Mr Vas, who served for 22 years in the Army, was found not guilty by South East Suffolk Magistrates and no evidence was offered on a second charge of keeping a dangerous dog and that was dismissed.

Sally Hickling, prosecuting, said Mr Gunfield was standing outside NLM Newsagents on November 3, last year, with his collie dog Spot and was talking to four young people sitting on a bench when Mr Vas drew up in his car.

She claimed Mr Vas told Mr Gunfield to get off his property, then went into his home above the shop and came out with his own dog, a Jack Russell, on a lead and chased Mr Gunfield, shouting "Bite him. Bite him".

Mr Gunfield told the court: "He told me to clear off. I moved away to the Co-op. He set his dog on mine. I tried to pull it away. The dog's foot poured with blood. I got upset. Then he chased me with a broom."

Lydia Johnson, defending, suggested the incident was the culmination of a period during which Mr Gunfield had been persecuting Mr Vas after he had been banned from NLM Newsagents.

Mr Vas told the court he had banned four under-age girls who he had caught stealing cigarettes from his shop and had subsequently banned Mr Gunfield after he saw him pass on cigarettes he had bought in the shop to the girls waiting outside.''

Mr Vas denied he had set his dog on the collie, claiming he had been taking his own pet for its walk, and denied he had chased Mr Gunfield with a broom, saying his heart condition prevented him from running.

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