7 Oct 2014

Fatal dog attack breaks father's heart

6:58 pm on 7 October 2014

A man whose Rottweiler dogs attacked and mauled a woman to death has been sentenced to home detention.

The 31-year-old woman was killed in Auckland in March last year.

A Rottweiler, left, and a bull mastiff cross play fighting.

A Rottweiler, left, and a bull mastiff cross play fighting. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The dogs' owner was this morning sentenced in the North Shore District Court to one year home detention and must pay $25,000 in reparation for emotional harm.

Neither the dead woman nor the owner can be named for legal reasons.

The man had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of owning a dog causing serious injury.

The Crown said the woman died in a brutal and sustained attack from what were territorial guard dogs.

The woman went to the man's home in March last year at about 1am and went outside after the man had fallen asleep.

She was attacked by two of the man's three dogs, and her father told the court his daughter's injuries were so gruesome her family were never able to see her face.

He read a victim impact detailing her horrific injuries and his ongoing grief, and said his wife was living in a unit for dementia patients, and it was a blessing she was unaware of what happened.

He cried as he walked back to the public gallery in court.

The two dogs and another at the property were destroyed soon after the woman died, and the owner has been barred from owning any dogs in the future.

Judge David Sharp told the 53-year-old man he had a duty as a responsible owner to keep his dogs under control, and there was a failure to take adequate care of the dogs rather than a reckless approach.

The judge said there was nothing to suggest the dogs were trained to be dangerous but that it was completely unacceptable to have animals such as them.

The man's lawyer said the death was nothing short of a tragedy. His client had asked him to convey his sincere regret and remorse, and said he replayed the incident every day.

A father's grief - parts of the father's victim impact statement read in court

Why do people keep such vicious dangerous dogs - why do they continue owning them?

"My daughter's death is so painful. You don't expect to bury your children. I know the road ahead will be hard. She was a much-loved child. She was sensible, vulnerable and very beautiful. She loved to sing and dance and put on shows. It was joyous but now no more.

"She was confident about dogs, even big dogs. She was intelligent, generous, kind, compassionate, sensitive, loyal and had the most glorious sense of humour. A magnetic personality drew people to her. She looked after everyone but herself, and had serious addiction issues. She was clean and living with me last year for about seven months, she was a new person.

"And then the dogs killed her. Why do people keep such vicious dangerous dogs - why do they continue owning them? What a way to die. The injuries to her head were so gruesome we were not able to see her face. I found that very difficult, I feel my heart has been ripped out. I struggle to sleep, and I constantly search for her when I drive. I see women that look like her and my heart quickens.

"There will be no wedding, I will not be the proud father having my daughter on my arm walking down the aisle. There will be no children, and she loved children. I miss her, her voice, her laughter, her scent, her humour, her 100 handbags, her messy room - I'm so proud of her - she showed compassion, courage and support for others. She touched the lives of hundreds of people from all walks of life, she inspired people to go to rehab and beat their addictions.

"I could not have loved her more and I would have died for her. I have struggled with the time it has taken for this case to get to sentencing, this whole process has magnified the horror of it all. I'm deeply wounded and changed forever."

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