The Shields Gazette by . | Wednesday, 4 December 2013 | Click here for original article
A pensioner told how her life has changed after she was mauled by a Staffordshire bull terrier owned by a former British National Party (BNP) election candidate.
The 85-year-old was leaving North Marine Park off Lawe Road in South Shields, where she had been walking her terrier dog Toby with a friend for more than an hour, when her terrifying ordeal began.
At the same time, the bull terrier ran out of a car belonging to James Hills, 67, who stood for the BNP in the Beacon and Bents ward in South Shields at last year’s local elections.
After the bull terrier bit Toby around the head, the woman attempted to protect her pet.
It was then the bull terrier pounced on her – leaving a two-inch, down-to-the-bone laceration on her right arm – before dragging her into the road and close to an oncoming bus.
The Staffordshire bull terrier was destroyed immediately after the attack, which happened on September 24.
Hills, of Julian Street, South Shields, who said his dog was usually on a lead and muzzled, admitted being the owner of a dangerously out of control dog which caused injury while in a public place.
He was ordered to pay the victim £500 in compensation after appearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
In a witness statement, the pensioner expressed her terror at the attack, saying it had “changed the way I live.”
She added: “I can’t wash or cook. I no longer see my friends and I can’t go dancing any more as I can’t lift my arm above my waist.
“I was terrified by the dog, which was very strong and would not let go. I was in agony and there was blood coming from my arm.”
The pensioner went on to say in the statement that she was “scared the man who owned the dog would approach her” and was “constantly in tears”.
Laura Johnson, defending Hills, said her client had owned animals most of his life and had acquired the bull terrier from a rescue centre in the summer of this year, having being assured it was “lovely and gentle”.
She added: “Mr Hills always used a harness, muzzle and lead on the dog but on this occasion it was restless because it needed to relieve itself.
“It ran straight out of the car when he opened the door and into the road.”
Mrs Johnson said her client had arthritis and had undergone two knee replacements.
She said he attempted to get to the scene of the attack as quickly as possible given his health condition, adding: “He managed to retrieve the dog and put him back in the motor vehicle and a bus driver assisted the lady.
“He accepts the dog was out of control and he ultimately faces the responsibility.
“He was visibly upset himself at what happened and made full admissions to the police.
“Mr Hills has no reason to speak to this lady and there will be no repercussions.”