An elderly dog owner grabbed a mother and pinned her to the floor in an ”astonishing” bid to stop her rescuing her six-year-old daughter as the youngster’s face was being mauled by his Staffordshire bull terrier, a court heard.
Philip Rhodes, 70, failed to prevent his dog Bruno attacking little Demi Baines, but instead jumped on her mother Karen and pulled her to the ground to stop her intervening, it was claimed.
He then lay on top of Ms Baines as Demi was being savaged by Bruno – also known as Bru-Bru – whilst he drunkenly slurred “get off her, get off her”, referring to the dog, it is alleged.
When police and other emergency services were called to the scene on Christmas Day 2013, Rhodes was so drunk he was struggling to stand, a jury heard.
When questioned about the attack he told them: “Are you nailing me to a cross? That’s what they did to Jesus.”
The attack, which occurred outside Rhodes’ home just minutes away from Ms Baines’ property in Hyde, Greater Manchester, completely “severed” Demi’s bottom lip, punctured her arm and wounded her back. She was in hospital for three days, required emergency surgery and is scarred for life.
At Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester Miss Baines broke down in tears as she recalled the tragic events which began when she and Demi were walking through a residential area having attended a family Christmas party.
Giving evidence, Miss Baines said: “Philip was stood outside his property with his arms out saying ‘isn’t she lovely?’ He was just a few feet away. He appeared to be drunk. He was slurring and staggering.
“The dog came out from a field to my left. It wasn’t on a lead. As I got to the side of him the dog ran in front of us and I put my hand down and it licked the tip of my finger then all of a sudden attacked my daughter’s face.
“I thought it was going to jump up and lick her face because it had jumped up at him first but it was when I heard the growl I realised it was attacking her. It jumped on her chest and she stepped back because it knocked her. She was standing up for a while – it felt like forever – then after a few seconds it had her on the floor. It was on her face and I knew it was attacking her.”
Miss Baines said she tried to wrestle the dog off her daughter before Rhodes intervened.
“He jumped in and he got me on the floor,” she added. “I was trying to get it to bite me and come to me rather than my daughter then he jumped on me. I was underneath him and couldn’t get up.
“I panicked and I was kicking and screaming and he wouldn’t let me up. He was slurring and saying ‘get off her, get off her’. I was scared the dog would kill her. It would have torn her apart.
“He kept grabbing me by my arms every time I went to grab the dog. I was trying to grab the dog by the collar and eventually got on my feet and shouted of my daughter who had managed to run off.
“Her top lip was just hanging off. I felt like that dog was going to kill my little girl. She was only six. He jumped on me and there was nothing I could do to get off the floor.”
Rhodes denies that his dog attacked Demi and denies he was the man who assaulted Miss Baines.
Opening the case to the jury on the first day of a two day trial, prosecutor Alison Heyworth earlier said: “Miss Baines, no doubt acting on motherly instinct, tried to separate the dog from the child. But the dog was not for letting go.
“Quite astonishingly, what happened then is that this defendant, instead of assisting and separating the dog, grabbed Miss Baines, shouted ‘get off her’ which she took to mean the dog, and pinned her to the ground to prevent her from assisting her child who was still being attacked by the dog.
“This was a frenzied attack and Miss Baines was unable to assist her daughter because she was struggling with the defendant who had her on the ground. Eventually Demi was released by the dog and ran away.
”Miss Baines kept on trying to grab it because she was worried it would chase her daughter but was still prevented by the defendant who was holding on to her and not letting go.
“The child was terribly injured. Her mouth had been severed completely in parts and she had a hole in her left arm and lower back.
“This was a horrific and terrifying attack by this defendant’s dog on a child and the actions by this defendant prevented her mother from helping her.”
Rhodes denies one charge of being the owner of a dog which has caused injury while dangerously out of control and one charge of assault by beating.
The trial continues.