Dog seized by police killed man days after being returned to owner, court told
David Ellam died after he was attacked by the mongrel bull terrier outside his flat in Huddersfield.
A dog attacked and killed a man a week after police handed it back to its owner because it was not a dangerous breed, a jury has been told.
Leeds Crown Court heard that David Ellam, 52, died after he was attacked by a mongrel bull terrier called Alex outside his flat in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in August 2016.
Neighbours heard desperate screams for help, and one even fetched a knife to stab the animal, but the the five-year-old female dog only released Mr Ellam after a police officer sprayed a fire extinguisher at its face.
Alex then attacked Mr Ellam’s terrier Rollo, the jury was told.
Richard Walters, prosecuting, told the court that Alex had a history of attacking people and, in 2012, a court granted a dog control order against her owner, Aaron Joseph, who lived in a flat above Mr Ellam.
But, he said, Joseph ignored the conditions.
After an incident two months before his death, Mr Ellam raised concerns that Alex may be a banned pit bull terrier, the prosecutor said.
Police seized the dog but returned her on August 8 – a week before Alex escaped from her kennel in the communal garden of the flats and killed Mr Ellam.
Mr Walters said that, five days before the fatal attack, a dog warden visited Joseph and gave him 21 days to comply with the conditions of the order made four years before.
The prosecutor said Mr Ellam was attacked after he went out of his flat in Riddings Road, Huddersfield, probably to walk Rollo, on August 15 2016.
“Just after 9.30am, neighbours heard Mr Ellam shouting ‘Help me, please somebody help me’,” he said.
“Mr Ellam was by his door and Alex was seen to have hold of him by the arm. She was panting and scraping her paws on the ground.
“Alex at some stage then bit Mr Ellam’s leg. His cries for help were becoming more desperate and people could see there was a lot of blood around.”
The prosecutor went on: “Alex was growling and snarling and Mr Ellam was heard to say he couldn’t take much more. Ominously, his cries became fewer and further apart.
“Mr Ellam was seen to be unconscious and it was noted that the dog was dragging him.”
After the police officer managed to get the dog to release Mr Ellam “Alex then turned on Mr Ellam’s dog, Rollo, and, at one stage, was seen to have him in her mouth,” Mr Walters said.
The prosecutor said Mr Ellam died from his injuries in hospital later that day.
Joseph, 30, denies being the owner of a dog which caused death while it was dangerously out of control.
Mr Walters will continue opening the case on Monday afternoon.
Witness Naomi Russell said in a statement read to the court that she looked out of a window to see Mr Ellam being attacked by the dog.
She said that at one point the dog was shaking its head from side to side “as if it was trying to sever the leg”.
Ms Russell, who called the police, said she saw the dog drag Mr Ellam from the door step towards the garden gate.
She said the dog let go of Mr Ellam when its owner arrived but then went straight for a Yorkshire Terrier.
The witnesses said it “dragged the little dog from side to side and looked as if it was trying to sever something. The little dog was screaming.”
Giving evidence in court, Mr Ellam’s partner Claire Josling described how he was a “dog lover”.
Asked about the police being Alex back to the flats in August, she said: “He was very angry about the dog being returned.”
She said: “He was told measures had been put in place.”
Asked whether Mr Ellam felt “let down” by the council and police, Ms Josling said: “He didn’t feel they had done enough.”
She said that she and her partner had a mutual interest in supporting Huddersfield Town football club.