Couple jailed after dog mauled toddler in Kent


A man and woman have been jailed after they admitted owning a dog which severely mauled a toddler in a play area in Kent.

Hayley Eldridge, 29, and Michael Thornton, 27, both from Chatham, left the pit bull dog in the care of a 15-year-old girl on 4 April 2017, who took it into a children’s play area, where it attacked the child.

The 18-month-old girl was left with serious injuries to her scalp and is likely to require major surgery in the future. The dog was later shot dead by firearms officers.

At Maidstone Crown Court this afternoon (10 October) both defendants were sentenced to immediate custody and disqualified from owning a dog for five years.

David Skelton, from the CPS, said: “When the case came to trial both defendants pleaded guilty in the face of a strong case put together by the CPS and the police, aided by the many witnesses who came forward to give accounts of what had happened, both during the attack and prior to it.

“The defendants put the animal in the care of a teenage girl, who was clearly not a fit and proper person to look after it.

“This incident deeply affected the local community and not least the very young victim who suffered horrendous injuries. No doubt this will stay with her and her family for the rest of their lives.

“Although neither defendant was present at the time of the attack, under the Dangerous Dogs Act, the owners can still commit an offence, even if someone else was in charge of the dog at the time.”

Notes to editors

  • David Skelton is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East
  • Hayley Eldridge (DOB: 20/02/1989) and Michael Thornton (DOB: 23/10/1990) pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to being the owner of a dog which caused injury while dangerously out of control in a public place under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
  • Eldridge was sentenced to 21 months in prison for the dangerous dog offence and 16 weeks in prison for a related offence of perjury, to be served consecutively
  • Thornton was sentenced to two years in prison.


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