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Former Premier League star in court over dog bite in pub beer garden

A Golden Retriever like the one involved in this case
A Golden Retriever like the one involved in this case

Former Blackburn Rovers forward Kevin Gallacher "took his eye off the ball" as his golden retriever bit a seven-year-old girl on the head in a pub beer garden, a court has heard

The former Scotland international is said to have let the youngster stroke his dog, Baxter, unsupervised as he turned to chat to a friend at a picnic table.

The girl needed hospital treatment for lacerations to her face and scalp after she said she was bitten "three, four times", Blackburn Magistrates' Court heard.

Gallacher, 48, denies owning a dog which was dangerously out of control at The Bonny Inn in Clayton le Dale, Blackburn, on September 28 last year.

Opening the case, prosecutor Andrea Fawcett said: "The Crown's case is that this was an omission on the part of Mr Gallacher. An omission in that he has failed to supervise the contact between (the girl) and Baxter.

"Mr Gallacher, by his own admission, is an experienced dog owner and as such must have known that any animal is never entirely predictable, and if you own a dog, from a Yorkie to a pitbull, you must have some duty of care for anyone who comes into contact with your animal.

"The prosecution further say that this incident took place in a busy beer garden. It is an environment which, it is fair to say, where there were unsupervised young children playing around and certainly at least one other dog in that area."

She said the defendant consented to the girl's request to stroke his dog.

She went on: "The prosecution say that should have rang alarm bells and that contact between (the girl) and Baxter, however long it took, should have been supervised by the owner of the dog, Mr Gallacher.

"The prosecution case is that is not what happened and, in effect, he has resumed his conversation with a friend who he was talking to at the time, and he has taken his eye off the ball.

"It is clear that he did not actually see what happened. The Crown's case, in a nutshell, is that he should have done."

When interviewed by police, the girl said: "I asked the man if I could stroke him (the dog). He said yes. I stroked him and he just turned on me.

"He just bit me. Bit me really hard, he bit me three, four times."

She said the dog was on a lead and sat down, but said the man was not holding it as it was tied to the bench where he sat.

Giving evidence, the girl agreed with Gallacher's solicitor Kathryn Jamieson-Sinclair that she may have frightened Baxter when she went to continue stroking him under the table bench.

The court heard that a family friend carried the injured girl into the pub where her parents were.

In a statement, the girl's mother recalled telling Gallacher in the pub: "You want to get that dog under control with a muzzle."

Gallacher, who was a member of Blackburn's Premier League winning team in 1995, and who also played for Dundee United, Coventry City and Newcastle United, faces a two-day trial.