Dog owner ap­peals con­vic­tion

Judge re­serves his de­ci­sion

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

A for­mer lawyer could have done noth­ing to pre­vent her dog at­tack­ing and sev­er­ing the lip of another woman, a judge has been told.

Gre­tel Fair­brother, 43, was sen­tenced to 200 hours’ com­mu­nity work and fined $15,452 in March as a re­sult of the at­tack on vet­eri­nary tech­ni­cian Linda Har­ri­son-Pugh in Porirua in 2013.

Har­ri­son lost most of her lower lip in the at­tack and, de­spite sur­gi­cal re­con­struc­tion, has been un­able to eat, drink or speak nor­mally since.

Fair­brother was found guilty of fail­ing to keep a dog un­der con­trol, ob­struct­ing a dog con­trol of­fi­cer, and own­ing a dog that at­tacked a per­son.

The at­tack hap­pened in Cam­borne on Fe­bru­ary 22, 2013.

Fair­brother had been walk­ing her two dogs and stopped to chat with Har­ri­son- Pugh, when her english bull ter­rier Stan­ley Boy lunged at Har­ri­son-Pugh’s face with­out warn­ing and swal­lowed her sev­ered lip.

Fair­brother and part­ner Michael Reit­terer then hid Stan­ley Boy for 18 months, but he was seized af­ter be­ing spot­ted in public. Fair­brother had the dog put down last De­cem­ber af­ter she was found guilty.

In an ap­peal against con­vic­tion and sen­tence at the High Court in Welling­ton on June 16, lawyer Ni­co­lette Levy said that, other than stop­ping the en­counter with Har­ri­son-Pugh com­pletely, there was noth­ing Fair­brother could have done.

Levy said the dog had no pre­vi­ous record of bad be­hav­iour or other risk fac­tors, and Fair­brother had been about to end the en­counter when the at­tack hap­pened.

‘‘If there is noth­ing that could have been done to pre­vent it, then there is a to­tal ab­sence of fault,’’ she told Jus­tice Bren­dan Brown.

Levy said there was no dis­pute that there was an ob­struc­tion in hid­ing the dog, but the max­i­mum penalty for such an of­fence was a fine, and a con­vic­tion could pre­vent Fair­brother from ob­tain­ing a work visa for the United Arab Emi­rates, where Reit­terer now lived.

Jae­sen Sum­ner, for Porirua City Coun­cil, which brought the pros­e­cu­tion, said the at­tack was quick, un­pre­dictable and se­vere.

He said that, by def­i­ni­tion, Fair­brother had lost con­trol of the dog.

He said the ob­struc­tion was one of the worst cases the coun­cil had pros­e­cuted.

The judge re­served his de­ci­sion.

Photo: FAIR­FAX

Gre­tel Fair­brother leaves Welling­ton Dis­trict Court.

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