Mid Wales

Dog 'given priority' over Newtown toddler

A Powys toddler was left bitten and bruised after her parents gave their German Shepherd dog "greater priority", a court heard.

The two-and-a-half-year-old's parents, from Newtown, admitted exposing the child to unnecessary suffering from the dog, who used her as a "play thing".

Both were handed 18-month community sentences, and supervision courses at Mold Crown Court.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been taken into care.

The court heard how the dog was allowed the freedom of the house which was in a disgusting mess.

Social workers and the police visited the home and took away the girl, who had bite marks and bruises to her limbs and body, the court was told.

Her mother, 22, and father, 28, were originally charged with child cruelty on the basis of wilful assault, which they denied.

But they admitted exposing the child to unnecessary suffering from the family dog.

Judge Niclas Parry told the parents: "It is nothing short of sickening to think about that child, vulnerable and wholly reliant upon you two, living in disgusting conditions and stench.

"She was living in a home where a dog was given greater priority."

The judge said that the couple had received several requests to change their ways and to give their daughter priority.

"But you minimised it all," he added. "You allowed that animal full freedom of the house. It would treat your daughter as a play thing. There is evidence that it would leap at her and nip her and grab her limbs.

Sentencing

"She was left bruised and distressed."

Both parents were given alternative sentences to custody in the form of intensive, 18-month community sentences.

The father was handed a one-to-one course with probation workers, and he was tagged to remain indoors at night for the next three months.

The mother was sent on supervision and on a future skills course.

Jonathan Austin, for the father, stressed that he was not accused of causing any injury to the child himself.

He accepted exposing the child to risk of harm from the dog, often when he was not there. His client had been very much a "hands off" father, he said.

Debra White, for the mother, said the couple were now separated following periods of domestic abuse.

She had suffered from post natal depression, the boisterous dog had been brought to the house by her then partner, and she had been unable to cope.

The child was now in care but she was allowed supervised access.

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