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Sophie Wallace-Paxford from Thatcham sentenced for danger dog attack which severed finger

A WOMAN has been given a suspended prison sentence after her dog bit off part of a victim’s finger.

The animal had previously attacked an 11-year-old girl playing nearby, Reading magistrates heard.

Reading Magistrates Courts
Reading Magistrates Courts

At a sentencing hearing on Monday, February 19, owner Sophie Wallace-Paxford was told the reason she was not going straight to prison was the effect it would have on her three young children.

Chad Echakowitz, prosecuting, said the incident happened in a communal landing area of flats on Mount Road, Thatcham.

Victim Freya Kirby had been visiting her a friend when the dog, a two-year-old Japanese Akita named Hugo, attacked without warning.

Ms Kirby was off work for weeks, needed plastic surgery and endured multiple operations as a consequence, the court heard.

Thirty-year-old Ms Wallace-Paxford, who lives in the Mount Road flats, admitted being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control on Wednesday, July 12, last year.

The court was told that Hugo had previously attacked an 11-year-old girl who was playing nearby, although she was not seriously injured.

Katherine Brymer defending, said that, following that incident, her client had been spoken to by the authorities and had complied with requests to prevent Hugo accessing the communal area and to place a barrier across the stairs.

However Ms Kirby had to go through the barrier to access her friend’s flat.

Mrs Brymer said Ms Wallace-Paxford was “fully appreciative” of the seriousness of the attack “because of the blood and the missing finger”.

She added: “The neighbours haven’t spoken to her and she’s embarrassed to still be in the block of flats.

“She doesn’t have any support from her local community.

“She is aware of the risk of custody in this case; however the impact on her children would be quite severe, I would suggest.”

Hugo has since been destroyed, said Mrs Brymer.

District judge Samuel Goozee said: “Hugo was a large dog; you had been aware from a previous incident that he had displayed aggressive tendencies in the past; you had been spoken to and given advice.

“So you knew, when he wasn’t under your immediate control, there was always the possibility he could behave in a similar way again.”

Judge Goozee said Ms Kirby’s injuries, both physical and psychological, had been “significant.”

However, he acknowledged that Ms Wallace-Paxtford had complied with the advice given and was extremely remorseful.

He added: “This offence is so serious only a custodial sentence is appropriate.

“The only question is do I suspend that or send you immediately to prison?

“Because of the impact on your young children I’m going to suspend it – but make no mistake, this is a custodial sentence.”

Ms Wallace-Paxford was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

In addition, she was ordered to pay Ms Kirby £50 compensation in lieu of costs or an otherwise statutory victim services surcharge.

Finally, judge Goozee, said: “I don’t consider you a fit and proper person to own a dog.”

Consequently he banned her from owning or keeping a dog for the next 10 years.

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