A yob high on drink and drugs told police he had no recollection of ordering his powerful dog – an American XL bully – to carry out a savage unprovoked attack on an innocent victim in Warrington.
The dog, described by a witness as being “as big as a 100 kilo pig”, promptly did as Taig Jepson instructed and savaged the victim, John Forsyth. Jepson got involved in the attack kicking his victim’s head “like a football” according to witnesses.
Mr Forsyth suffered severe lacerations to his upper right arm as well as eight puncture wounds to it and nine or ten puncture marks to his back caused by the animal which hung onto him.
“The dog had pulled him like a tug of war,” said Martyn Walsh, prosecuting at Liverpool Crown Court, yesterday, Friday.
His left tricep muscle was damaged and he had to undergo surgery under general anaesthetic. He also needed intravenous antibiotics and was kept in hospital for three days.He also suffered lacerations and scratches to his nose and head following kicks from Jepson as he lay helpless.
Jepson, aged 25 of Neville Crescent, Penketh, Warrington, was jailed for eight years after admitting causing grievous bodily harm with intent and being in charge of dangerously out of control dog.
“There has been much public debate as to whether such a breed should become the subject of a banned breed,” said Judge David Aubrey, KC.
“There has also been much debate because of a number of tragedies and indeed fatalities that have occurred over a period of time.”
He said these involved dogs of the same breed or similar that were seriously out of control.
“On January 6 this year your dog in the judgement of this court – a solid, muscular, potentially tenacious dog – was not out of control. It was in your charge and under your control throughout.
“Indeed I go further, not only just under your control but under your instruction and indeed would obey any instruction that he received from you.”
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Jepson has no recollection of the incident as he was high on drink and drugs.
Judge Aubrey said the combination of Jepson and the dog was “a lethal cocktail, as events clearly demonstrated” and he went on to describe the dog, Lexi, as “a potentially highly dangerous weapon.”
Mr Walsh had told the court that the incident happened about 9.30 pm on January 6 this year after Mr Forsyth, 26, parked his car in Leicester Street, Warrington.
He got out and waved to a neighbour, Denis Lunka, who peeped his horn in response. This led to Jepson beginning to argue with Mr Lunka and aggressively calling him abusive names.
Mr Forsyth tried to explain to the defendant that Mr Lunka had just been beeping at him but Jepson punched him to the head knocking his glasses off. He tried to fight back but was grabbed and stumbled to the ground.
After he got up Jepson punched him to the face causing his nose to bleed. “Mr Forsyth backed away and the defendant told the dog to attack him, saying “attack”.
The victim ended up on the floor with the dog biting his right arm causing pain and bleeding. “He was unable to get away as the dog clamped onto him and the defendant was punching and kicking him.
“Neighbours came to help and Jepson and the dog ran away. The defendant left behind his bank card, keys and a hat,” said Mr Walsh.
Neighbours told the police how Jepson had repeatedly kicked Mr Forsyth, one describing him kicking him in the head like a football.
Jepson was arrested on April 19 and said he could not recollect the incident. He said he had been holding the dog but claimed it was not his. He said it had “a lovely temperament.”
In an impact statement Mr Forysth said he had to stay off work for six weeks because of his injuries. He did not get sick pay and had been left more than £2,000 out of pocket.
He had also been left feeling very vulnerable and had not been able to go to the gym or martial arts classes.
The court heard that Jepson has previous convictions including assault, wounding and drugs.
David Ross, defending, said that drink and drugs turned Jepson into a different person, “it is a Jekyll and Hyde situation.”
He had owned the dog at the time but was later offered some money from some travellers for it and does not know where it is now.
The judge pointed pointed out that the dog had had its ears clipped and Mr Ross said that had been done before Jepson acquired it and he had not been happy about that.
He said it is the defendant’s first custodial sentence and he is making progress behind bars.
Judge Aubrey told Jepson he will have to serve two thirds of the eight year sentence and he banned him from keeping a dog for ten years. He also made a destruction order for the dog.