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Dangerous animal Woman warned to have 'monster of a dog' destroyed or face going to prison

Vicious Akita dog still chained up 12 months after attacking three people


Helen Blackwood leaves Newtonards Court

Helen Blackwood leaves Newtonards Court

Helen Blackwood leaves Newtonards Court

A woman whose massive Akita dog attacked a teenager, her mum and an 86-year-old war veteran was today warned that if she didn’t have the dog destroyed, she will go to jail.

Imposing a four month prison sentence but suspending it for three years, District Judge Mark Hamill told 44-year-old Helen Blackwood “the whole basis of the suspended sentence is the dog being destroyed.”

“Mention this case again next Monday and I want confirmation that the dog has been destroyed,” said the judge, warning Blackwood “if I find it hasn’t been destroyed I will bring you back and send you to prison for eight months.”

Describing the case as “one of the worst dog attack cases I have come across,” DJ Hamill added that while he should be awarding £3,000 compensation for each victim, “she is a woman of straw... but there will be civil ramifications I would have thought.”

At an earlier hearing Blackwood, from the Quarter Road in Cloughey, admitted three charges relating to her dog, a black and white Akita, attacking a person, allowing the dog to stray and keeping a dog without a licence, all committed close to her home on 15 April last year.

A prosecuting lawyer told Newtownards Magistrates Court how a 15-year-old girl was out for a walk with her mum when the dog attacked the teenager, biting her arm and then biting her mum when she intervened and “managed to wrestle the dog” off her.

The terrified mum and daughter fled to the nearest house having sustained numerous puncture wounds to their arms but a short time later, the dog attacked an 86-year-old Korean War veteran.

The lawyer said a passer-by tried to shout a warning to the pensioner but because he was “rather short of hearing,” he didn’t heed the warning and the dog knocked him to the ground where it “went for his throat,” inflicting bite marks and bruising to the veteran’s chin and chest area.

He said that despite fighting in the Korean War, the veteran says the dog attack last April “was the most frightening experience of his life.”

“He still gets flashbacks of the dog on top of him, drooling,” said the lawyer, “he really thought it was going to rip his throat out and kill him.”

The court heard that some passers by were reluctant to help “because of the size of the dog” but eventually, a Good Samaritan grabbed it by the collar and managed to drag it off the pensioner while a District Nurse who came across the scene gave him first aid.

Enquiries and investigations led Ards and North Down Council to Blackwood who claimed then that “she would get the dog put down” but the court heard that coming up to 12 months from the attack, Blackwood still has the Akita “chained up at her property.”

While the PPS lawyer said he was applying for a destruction order for the dog, defence counsel Conan Rea revealed that Blackwood has an appointment with a vet today to have the dog destroyed.

The lawyer said he was also applying for Blackwood to be disqualified from owning or keeping a dog and for court costs of £296 against her.

Mr Rea confirmed there was no insurance policy covering the dog which had originally belonged to her brother, submitting that she had not been able to have it put to sleep “due to Covid.”

“It’s stating the obvious that it should’ve been put down and in the normal run of events, without Covid, that’s what would’ve happened,” said the lawyer who told the court Blackwood is “very remorseful and apologetic” for the “very traumatic incident.”

Describing the Akita as a “monster of a dog,” DJ Hamill said he was “appalled that this dog is still alive” and the fact that it was not licensed was “the icing on the cake.”

In addition to the suspended prison sentence, Blackwood was fined £100 and ordered to pay the £296 costs.

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