A MAULING by an American bulldog which left a three-year-old with permanent scars saw the dog’s owner escape prison today (Thursday, August 1).
Kirsty Borthwick, 43, of Albert Road, Chichester, was fined a total of £4,303.50 at Worthing Magistrates’ Court, given a suspended prison sentence and banned from owning a dog for ten years.
The mother and daughter, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were attacked at the Fishbourne underpass on June 17 and left with ‘incredibly painful’ injuries.
A victim statement, read out on behalf of the mother, said: “My beautiful daughter now has three prominent scars across her face and is unable to lift her right eyebrow as a result of nerve damage.
“This is unlikely to ever recover.”
Her daughter has just finished a second course of antibiotics and she said her daughter ‘cried and cried when she was woken at 11pm to be given her night-time dose’.
“She’s transformed from a child, like any other, who loved animals, to one that gets upset when a fly comes into the room.
“She used to settle at night, but now needs a light on in her room as she often wakes in the middle of the night with nightmares or gets upset if she hears a dog barking outside.”
Magistrates took around an hour-and-a-half to decide on a sentence and chairman Keith Bushby said the length of time reflected the seriousness with which they were treating the offence.
In terms of culpability of Borthwick, he said: “We believe that on this occasion this offence could have and should have been prevented.”
He handed down a 20-week prison sentence, which was suspended for 12 months.
“That reflects how seriously we’re treating this,” he said.
He said she must also carry out 240 hours of unpaid work.
She had to pay £138.50 in expenses, £2,000 to each of the victims, £85 in costs and £80 in victim surcharge.
Borthwick pleaded guilty to the charge of owning a dog and allowing it to be dangerously out of control in a public place and cause injury.
The dog, which has since been destroyed, was four years old, meaning it was bought when Borthwick’s youngest son was a one-year-old.
In mitigation, defence counsel Louise Minns-Davies said of Borthwick: “She would never have put her child at risk had she known it was capable of such aggression.
“She’s thankful there wasn’t a worse outcome of this case and that her children weren’t hurt also.
“This was a dog that had no history of any aggression or anything of that nature.”