An ‘arrogant’ dog owner whose vicious pet savaged a neighbour to death despite being subject to a control order was today (tues) jailed for 10 years.
Aaron Joseph, 30, owned cross breed bull terrier Alex which attacked and killed David Ellam, 52, outside his flat after digging under a fence.
Mr Ellam was heard to scream “help me, please somebody help me” as the dog savaged him and dragged in on the ground with its jaw clamped on his leg.
He suffered serious injuries during the horrific attack in August 2016 and died 12 hours later at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
On Tuesday, it took a jury just 40 minutes to find Joseph, who is the father of an eight-year-old and 14-month-old twins, guilty of having a dog which caused injury resulting in death whilst dangerously out of control.
The court heard that Alex had previously attacked other neighbours and was subject to an order meaning she had to be muzzled, neutered and on a lead in public.
Sentencing Joseph, Judge Sally Cahill said the attack happened because of Joseph’s “arrogant and stubborn disregard” for the welfare and safety of others.
Joseph, described as a semi-professional footballer, blew a kiss to the public gallery as he was led to the cells.
The court heard how Joseph’s crossbreed five-year-old dog Alex savaged Mr Ellam outside his flat while he attempted to defend his own pet.
Former lollipop man Mr Ellam was set upon outside his flat in Huddersfield, West Yorks., by the snarling beast which had dug its way out of a pen nearby.
It grabbed hold of him by the arm before biting his leg and neighbours described in court hearing desperate screams for help.
One even fetched a knife to stab the animal, but the dog only released Mr Ellam after a police officer sprayed a fire extinguisher at its face.
He began to lose consciousness and was dragged by the bull terrier who only let go after a police officer sprayed a fire extinguisher at its face.
A court heard, the dog was the subject of a control order in October 2012 which stated that the dog should be neutered, insured and microchipped.
The court heard, Joseph ignored all the terms of the order.
The dog had also previously attacked three other neighbours and a council workman and was on the banned breeding list – a concern previously raised by Mr Ellam and his partner Claire Josling.
Police officers seized the animal but it was returned to Joseph just eight days prior to the attack.
Joseph was sentenced to 10 years behind bars and disqualified from owning a dog for life.
Mr Ellam’s partner Claire and friends watched the proceedings from the public gallery wearing Huddersfield United kits emblazoned with “Dave Ellam 52” on the back.
In a victim impact statement from Claire read by prosecutor Jonathan Sharp QC, she described how “losing Dave was like turning out the light” in her life.
She said she had suffered anxiety and sleepless nights since the “simply unthinkable” attack.
The statement read: “Dave was one of those people that once you had met was hard to forget, once he was part of your life it was hard to imagine life without him.
“Losing Dave was like someone had turned out the light in our lives.
“Dave was loved and adored by his nephews, niece, partner, wife, brothers, extended family and friends and all those that knew him.
“Dave had the biggest heart and would do anything for anyone.
“Dave, despite pretending to come across as a tough man, was, in fact, a great big softie shown unfortunately in his undeniable love to protect Rollo.
“It has been a hard 18 months since we lost Dave although a lot of it has passed us by in a bit of an unbelievable blur.
“We often think about all the things that he has missed in this time.
“Town being promoted to the premier league was Dave’s lifelong dream, and he will miss his niece and nephews growing up and turning into amazing adults, and achieving their dreams, something he would have encouraged and supported them to do.
“Dave Ellam was and will forever and always be our world.”
In mitigation, Katherine Pierpoint said Joseph, who worked as a courier and played football for FC Emley, said “He is a talented football player at a semi-professional level.
“He was genuinely shocked when he saw what had happened.
“He never realised it would happen.”
Sentencing Joseph, Judge Sally Hill said: “The circumstances of this offence are nothing short of horrendous.
“On the 15th August 2016, Mr David Ellam met his death in the most appalling manner.
“He came out of his own front door and on his doorstep, he was attacked and mauled to death by your dog, Alex.
“Because of your arrogance, this dog, which should have been carefully and strictly controlled, was kept in circumstances whereby she was able to escape and attack Mr Ellam.
“You did things and failed to do things which in my judgement were not minimal, they were the root cause of this death.
“You could have muzzled Alex. That one simple act, in compliance with the Court Order, would have prevented this tragedy.
“I am quite sure a muzzle was not used by you that morning by you. Had a muzzle been properly used, Mr Ellam would still be alive today.
“All this leads to a conclusion that you bear substantial if not complete responsibility for the events that morning.
“This attack happened because of your arrogant and stubborn disregard for the welfare and safety of others in the community.”