10 Mar 2015

No conviction over dog attack

4:39 pm on 10 March 2015

A man who owned four dogs that almost killed a seven-year-old girl in Murupara has been discharged without conviction, but has to pay $7500 to her family.

Gareth Boyt

Gareth Boyt Photo: RNZ / Natalie Mankelow

Gareth Boyt, 35, appeared in the Rotorua District Court this morning on charges relating to the animal attack a year ago.

His lawyer Bill Lawson told the court there was no doubt the event was a tragedy, but he said the dogs were well trained and contained on the property.

Mr Lawson said Mr Boyt could not have asked for anything more than a discharge without conviction.

Sakurako Uehara.

Sakurako Uehara. Photo: Supplied

Mr Boyt's Staffordshire terrier crosses attacked Sakurako Uehara, inflicting the worst injuries of the type that Middlemore Hospital surgeons had ever seen.

Though she survived the attack, she is still undergoing treatment and is expected to need surgery for at least another 10 years.

Judge David Ruth today accepted Mr Boyt was not at home when the attack happened and that the girl was not being watched by her parents.

Judge Ruth said her parents had reacted badly and that their version of events did not match that of the Police.

"Without criticising them again, I rather think that what they have said has been driven by their emotions - and understandable emotions, for their daughter - rather than the reality of what happened on this day."

Judge Ruth said Sakurako was unlikely to fully recover emotionally.

"This young girl will face not only the physical difficulties and the medical procedures which will blight her life for many years to come, but we are simply unable to know or gauge the extent to which there will be emotional harm to this girl."

He said there was nothing to suggest the dogs would attack and the reason they did is likely to remain a tragic mystery.

"It is apparent that this young girl spent a lot of time with the dogs, seemed comfortable with them, and there was not at any point, I am satisfied, any inkling of any issue between the dogs and the family, or anyone else, for that matter."

The dogs were put down immediately after the mauling.

Mr Boyt has been ordered to pay $7,500 to Sakurako's family.