Man Spared Jail After Dogs Killed Girlfriend

A man whose pregnant girlfriend was killed by their two pitbull-type dogs in a “truly shocking, tragic and disturbing episode” has avoided a jail sentence.

Lee Horner, 34, was sentenced to 280 hours of unpaid work after being given a community order over the death of mother-of-four Emma Bennett.

Ms Bennett, 27, died after she was attacked by the dogs, named Dollar and Bella, at the couple’s home in Leeds in December.

Deputy District Judge Tim Spruce told Horner at Leeds Magistrates Court that the case “crossed the custody threshold”.

But the judge said he felt it was not appropriate to jail Horner in view of the loss he had suffered with the death of his partner.

Passing sentence, Mr Spruce said the legislation was designed to protect the public from certain breeds “because these animals are inclined to be unpredictable in nature and often with devastating consequences”.

The judge continued: “That unpredictability, those consequences could not be more solemnly illustrated than in the unique and tragic circumstances of the case before the court today.

“Two dogs with no previous recorded history of difficulty, danger or harm have set up their owner in circumstances which may never be entirely clear.

“This was a truly shocking, tragic and disturbing episode.”

Horner last month admitted owning dogs prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Prosecutors had described how Horner was out when police arrived at the house he shared with Ms Bennett.

Police were called by neighbours who heard a noise they first thought was an argument.

Miss Bennett was heard shouting: “No, no, no.”

The two officers forced their way inside after nobody answered and found the two dogs acting excitably with blood on their snouts.

They tried to resuscitate Miss Bennett, who had suffered severe injuries to her face and head, but she died.

Prosecutor Vincent O’Malley told the court how two women social workers visited the house in July last year and Horner told one of them: “Shut it or I’ll set the dog on you.”

Mr O’Malley said that Horner told the other social worker, who was eight months pregnant at the time: “What you looking at? Wait until I get the dog and see if you continue looking at me like that.”

Horner has been ordered to pay 500 towards the destruction of the two dogs as well as their housing since the incident.

He was also ordered to pay 240 in prosecution costs and a 60 victim surcharge.

He has been banned for life from keeping dogs.

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