Judge rejects jail for mauled boy's father

6:43 pm on 2 March 2017

An Auckland man whose bull-mastiff cross attacked his four-year-old son says he had no idea the dog was dangerous before the attack.

Exterior of the Manukau District Court

Manukau District Court Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Orlando Shepherd has been sentenced to 300 hours of community work after he pleaded guilty to owning a dog causing serious injury.

The attack at his Ōtāhuhu home in 2014 left his son with serious head injuries. The dog was euthanised a week later.

The Auckland Council had been seeking a jail term for Shepherd, but that level of punishment was quickly rejected by the sentencing judge this afternoon in the Manukau District Court.

Council prosecutor Richard Marchant argued it was a test case and a jail sentence would have sent a strong message to dog owners about the seriousness of the offending.

But Judge Francis Eivers ruled the 41-year-old had suffered enough with his son and his ongoing medical problems.

She chose community work instead, saying that while he did not intend for the attack to happen it was his fault, as it was his dog.

Outside court, Shepherd said if he had known the dog was dangerous, he would not have taken it on to help his friend out.

"They didn't tell me that. The only thing they said was the dog needed a place, he was good, he's harmless, and there is no danger to kids and that."

Mr Shepherd said he was still fighting for custody of his son and still struggling to find a place to live, after he was evicted from his Housing New Zealand property because of the dog.

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