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Man first to be jailed under Finn’s Law after police dog knife attack

Attacker Dan O’Sullivan was high on monkey dust and cocaine and had only been out of jail for six weeks.

Police dog Audi, pictured after the stabbing (Staffordshire Police/PA)
Police dog Audi, pictured after the stabbing (Staffordshire Police/PA)

A knife-wielding attacker who nearly blinded a police dog while high on monkey dust and cocaine has become the first person to be jailed under Finn’s Law.

Daniel O’Sullivan admitted a charge under the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2019 on Monday and was immediately jailed for 21 months for the attack and other offences.

Sentencing the 29-year-old, Judge Paul Glenn called it a “gratuitous” and “plainly premeditated” assault on serving Staffordshire Police dog Audi.

O’Sullivan who had previous convictions for attacking police, battery and affray, also spat in officers’ faces, made threats and kicked another in the head as they fought to restrain him in the street.

A member of the public called police after watching “agitated” O’Sullivan near the busy Potteries shopping centre in Quadrant Road, Hanley town centre, Stoke-on-Trent, at about 2.15pm on July 1 2019.

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Daniel O’Sullivan (Staffordshire Police/PA)

Prosecuting barrister Howard Searle told the court how O’Sullivan could be seen clutching a four-inch lock-knife behind his back.

O’Sullivan was described as “bouncing up and down, punching the air with the knife, making practice lunges”, scaring passers-by in the precinct, said Mr Searle.

Several police officers arrived along with Pc Karl Mander and his service dog Audi and ordered O’Sullivan to drop the knife, but he refused and threw a glass bottle at them.

Mr Searle said: “As a result of his refusal to put the weapons down, the police dog was released

“It got close to him and engaged with the defendant, who stabbed the police dog with a knife, to the eye area.”

O’Sullivan tried again to stab the dog again before being chased a short distance, where he was tasered and fell to the floor.

In the melee he kicked an officer in the head.

Having himself suffered a head wound during is fall, O’Sullivan was taken to hospital but continued his “abusive and violent behaviour” towards medics and police officers.

He spat in one constable’s face, leaving the officer feeling “disgusted and dirty”, spat at two others and kept kicking out.

O’Sullivan was placed in leg restraints, had an oxygen mask put over his face to stop the spitting and was eventually made to wear a spit-hood.

Listing the dog’s injuries, Mr Searle said: “The police dog had one or two stab wounds to its face, one very near to eyeball.

“The vet that treated the dog said it was lucky not to have lost an eye during the course of its service.”

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Police dog Audi pictured before the stabbing (Staffordshire Police/PA)

O’Sullivan, from Bowland Drive in the Litherland area of Liverpool, appeared on video-link at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, speaking only to enter guilty pleas to eight offences.

He admitted five counts of assaulting a police officer and two counts of having an offensive weapon; the glass bottle and the knife.

O’Sullivan was jailed for four months apiece for each of the officer assaults, 18 months for having the knife, and eight months for having the bottle as a weapon, all to be served concurrently.

He was separately jailed for an additional three months for what the judge called the “deliberate attempt to cause suffering” to police dog Audi.

When arrested, O’Sullivan had only been out on licence for six weeks after receiving a 15-month prison sentence for an assault.

Sentencing, Judge Glenn told him: “When police arrived, you immediately picked up an empty bottle, held by neck, screaming threats, including that you would stab the dog handler if he came towards you.

“You ignored repeated warnings, you were aggressively and actively seeking confrontation.

“Eventually when the dog was deployed your immediate and plainly premeditated response was to stab the dog to the side of the head.”

The judge, who heard Audi suffered a 3cm (one inch) cut, said: “Were it not for the orbit of its eye, the dog would have lost its eye and possibly its life.

“The officers were simply trying to do what they are trained to do, protect the public.”

He added: “No officers suffered serious injury, but spitting is a vile and despicable act and the purpose is to degrade and humiliate the victim.

“You admitted being under influence of monkey dust and cocaine.

“You said you intended to kill the dog and made threats about what you were going to do to police officers when you were released.”

In June, the new legislation aimed at giving greater protection to all service animals, came into force.

The law, which introduced tougher penalties for those convicted of harming police dogs and horses, entered the statute book following the high-profile case of police dog Finn, who was stabbed while chasing a suspect.

The dog nearly died from wounds to his chest and head but as the law then stood the offence could only be classified as criminal damage.

PA

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