Sunderland couple cleared of dog attack charges as magistrates rule they were not to blame

A Sunderland couple whose dog sank its teeth into another pooch's neck have been cleared of three allegations of being in charge of a dangerously out of control canine.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:55 am
The case was heard at South Tyneside Law Courts.  Picture by FRANK REID.
The case was heard at South Tyneside Law Courts. Picture by FRANK REID.

Chloe Alderson, 26, and Christopher McGuigan, 34, admitted their American Akita named Cole had attacked in Mulberry Avenue, Marley Potts, on Sunday, May 24 last year.

Such was their contrition the pair, of adjoining Marley Crescent, voluntarily paid over £1,000 in vet’s bills to the owner of the Cocker spaniel, a court heard.

As a result of the incident, Mr McGuigan alone was charged with allowing six-year-old Cole to be dangerously out of control.

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He denied the accusation – and told magistrates in South Tyneside the dog had escaped from their garden due to unforeseen gales partially blowing down a fence.

They each faced a separate allegation after a second resident and his dog were attacked by an Akita, also in Mulberry Avenue, two months earlier, on Tuesday, March 10.

The man suffered a deep wound to his left hand for which he needed hospital treatment and his spaniel-cross was bitten on the throat.

Police claimed the dog responsible was Cole – and the couple were jointly charged despite making denials.

They also pleaded not guilty to the same out-of-control danger allegation when they appeared before the court.

After a near four-hour trial which saw evidence from the bitten man and police, they were acquitted.

Magistrates said prosecutors had failed to prove Mr McGuigan deliberately allowed Cole to roam free to carry out the May attack.

And they said it was not certain the cream-coloured dog had been responsible for the March incident.

The couple, who have four children, would not comment on being cleared as they walked free from court.

But during evidence, they said Cole was carefully controlled by two fences – one of 4ft in height and the other of 7ft – while in their garden.

And Mr McGuigan said he even took the pooch out for walks on a lead at 5.30am to avoid other dog owners.

While admitting Cole had escaped and attacked in May, they insisted he had been kept within their property at the time of the March incident.

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