Sussex Dog Attack Sentencing ‘A Worrying Reminder Of Need For Action’

Legal Experts Call For Government To Keep Public Safe


Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have described the sentencing of a Sussex man in relation to a dog attack which left ten people injured as a ‘shocking’ example of why Government action to tackle dangerous dogs is essential.

Spencer Brown, 22, of St Leonards, was sentenced to 12 months in prison at Lewes Crown Court over the incident last month in which victims suffered a range of injuries after being attacked by his two dogs.

News of the sentencing has come days after Health and Social Care Information Centre figures revealed the number of hospital admissions for dog attack-related injuries in the year to April 2012 rose by 5.2 per cent to 6,450 from the previous 12 months. Children aged 10 and under also accounted for the highest rate of admissions.

The Government completed a consultation on improving dangerous dog legislation in June, with proposals such as compulsory microchipping of dogs and plans to extend regulations to private property under consideration. In addition, new sentencing guidelines were recently released in relation to dangerous dog cases.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist injury lawyers, who have vast experience acting for victims of dog attacks and helping them gain access to vital rehabilitation and support services, said the recent news proves how the issue has rarely been out of the spotlight.

David Urpeth, head of the team of dog attack experts at the national law firm, said: “Barely a week goes by at the moment when the issue of dangerous dogs is not in the headlines.

“This case in East Sussex is a particularly shocking example of why these proposals and new guidance are so timely, as it highlights the truly shocking impact that dog attacks can have on so many lives.

“Through our work we have seen the terrible consequences that these incidents have on those involved, with victims often being left with major physical and psychological injuries as a result.

“For the sake of all of those victims, young and old, who have faced massive trauma due to attacks, it is vital that we see the Government take decisive action to provide better protection to members of the public and ensure irresponsible owners are fully held to account.”

While the consultation on new measures to protect the public is a welcome sign that tackling dangerous dogs is on the agenda, Urpeth added that he hopes ministers do not view such action as their last on the issue.

He explained: “It is hugely disappointing that compulsory insurance and licensing were not considered as part of the Government’s latest consultation, as making them mandatory would ensure victims left seriously injured by dogs would still be able to gain vital funds and access essential care.

“In addition, for a long time the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Scheme has been the only way for many dog attack victims to get support for their injuries when owners do not have insurance.

“However, new proposals mean that claims could only be made if the animal was used as a weapon. Without compulsory insurance and licensing, these changes would mean that many people would be unable to access justice in relation to the ordeals they have suffered.

“This is clearly a hugely important issue and we again hope that ministers can carefully consider this issue to not only improve protection but guarantee that victims of attacks can get the justice and future support they deserve.”