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Pit bull owner jailed after cycle commuter seriously injured in "vicious attack"

Shaun Dwyer was jailed for 28 months over the incident which left Mark McDuff needing surgery

A pit bull owner whose animal escaped a property in Liverpool before "viciously attacking" a passing cyclist riding to work has been jailed for 28 months.

Mark McDuff suffered serious injuries in the attack at around 6am on the morning of June 13 last year and needed surgery and stitches to significant wounds to his left forearm and right ankle.

The court heard that the cyclist suffered "physical" and "psychological" harm during the prolonged attack which began when Mr McDuff saw a large white dog chasing him.

Prosecutor Chris Hopkins said the rider "knew he wasn't going to get away from the dog" when it grabbed his ankle, before chasing him into a neighbour's garden where the attack continued.

As the victim "was doing everything to get it off him shouting for help", the defendant arrived back at the property and "stayed with him" while a neighbour contacted the police.

Judge David Knifton sentenced Shaun Dwyer to 28 months in prison, ordered the destruction of the American pit bull terrier and disqualified Dwyer from owning a dog for 10 years.

In court, Dwyer claimed the house had been burgled, allowing the dog to escape —  he had previously pleaded guilty to owning a dog which was dangerously out of control causing injury and to possession of a fighting dog.

The 26-year-old wept as he was sentenced, and the St Helens Star reports he told his family in the public gallery, "I’m so sorry, I never wanted this to happen. Tell the kids I'm sorry. I didn't want this to happen."

Jailing Dwyer, Knifton "disagreed with the suggestion (Dwyer) was a responsible dog owner" and said the victim was "subject to a terrifying attack".

Knifton continued, saying Dwyer had "rather belatedly expressed remorse for the attack. I’m told that you have moved to a more secure address. The address at which the dog was previously kept was insecure."

Dwyer appeared to blame his landlord for the missing fence which allowed the dog to escape, but the judge replied, an "able-bodied 26-year-old would have been 'capable' of putting something in it to prevent the dog from escaping".

The court also heard that Dwyer was allowed to keep the "prohibited" dog in 2013 on the condition it be muzzled and he kept third-party insurance.

Dwyer's insurance expired in April 2020, over a year before the incident, and he said "wow and laughed" when shown a picture of the dog's broken cage during a police interview.

According to prosecutor Mr Hopkins, when police arrived at the scene of the attack the defendant was "agitated" and "told the officer he had nothing to do" with it and refused responsibility for owning the dog.

Judge Knifton "took into account" Dwyer's previous convictions "albeit for offences of a different character.

"A responsible dog owner would have ensured that the third-party insurance was up to date and that the dog remained secured in its place," he told the court.

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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