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Anger over dog attack sentence

Wednesday, 3rd April, 2013

A woman who was set upon by a pack of vicious dogs says that she is "absolutely disgusted" at the light sentence given to the dogs' owner.

The owner, Neville Taylor, was sentenced to a two-year good behaviour bond in the Wentworth Local Court yesterday, and no conviction was recorded against his name.

Leanne Barber and Damian Novello were seriously injured when Mr Taylor's three blue heeler crossbreeds attacked them in Thomas Lane in August last year.

Mr Novello's injuries required six hours of surgery to his arm, and Mrs Barber, who had tried to defend him from further attack, was also severely savaged.

"I had 52 bites to my body and 104 stitches," Mrs Barber said yesterday.

"I am unable to do my work as a scrubs nurse, so I have lost my trade, and I am going to have to have plastic surgery for my wounds."

Mrs Barber said she was "dumbfounded" by the sentence passed by Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy and thouroughy mystified by the working of the
justice system.

"Two people nearly lost their lives but it looks like our lives were worth nothing," she told the BDT.

"I was absolutely disgusted when I found out that my life was only worth a two-year good behaviour bond.

"Damian is also very upset. He went down to Wentworth for the sentencing. At first he thought that he (Mr Taylor) had got two years' jail."

Mr Taylor had left the dogs in the back yard of his Thomas Lane home while he went bush for a week but they escaped and were wandering around the neighbourhood.

Mr Novello was looking for his child's cat when he was attacked and Mrs Barber ran to his aid. When they mauled her she played dead but they
returned and started on her again.

The dogs also menaced two police officers who had responded to the emergency call and the officers had to shoot them with pepper spray, a Taser gun and live round to defend themselves. The animals were eventually captured and destroyed.

Last month Mr Taylor pleaded guilty to three counts of owning an attacking dog.

Magistrate Dunlevy put him on the bonds for each of the charges and they will be served concurrently.

Mrs Barber said she and Mr Novello had expected Mr Taylor to be punished by a heavy fine and order prohibiting him from ever owing dogs again.

"What does the law say to dangerous dog owners?," she said. "That they can do what they like.

"This decision has set a precedent."

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