Pit bull owner jailed after his dog mauled pensioner
15th November 2020

Owner of American pit bull terrier is jailed for two-and-half years after his trained fighting dog mauled pensioner, 74, ‘like a lion dragging an antelope’ leaving her with horrific injuries

  • The four-stone dog owned by Daniel Cleary, 32, was trained to fight in dog fights 
  • It took five men to beat it away from Mary Rollinson, 74 , from Leeds, with a pole 
  • Mary suffered severe injuries, including the loss of a finger and muscle damage 
  • Cleary jailed for two years and seven months on Thursday at  Leeds Crown Court
  • ***WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT***

A pit bull owner has been jailed after his trained fighting dog mauled a frail pensioner ‘like a lion dragging an antelope’ leaving her with horrific injuries. 

The four-stone American pit bull terrier owned by Daniel Cleary, 32, had been trained to fight in underground dog fights and it took five men to beat it away from Mary Rollinson with a steel pole.

Mary, 74, had no chance of escape when the beast slipped its collar and thundered at her from the undergrowth as she walked on a public footpath through woodland.

It gripped her in its jaws, shook her and dragged her into a pond at Yeadon, West Yorks, Leeds Crown Court was told.

A pit bull owner has been jailed after his trained fighting dog mauled Mary Rollinson, 74, (pictured) ‘like a lion dragging an antelope’ leaving her with horrific injuries

The four-stone American pit bull terrier (pictured) owned by Daniel Cleary, 32, had been trained to fight in underground dog fights

The attack went on for around half-an-hour as Mary screamed so loudly that men working in a nearby factory heard.

She suffered severe injuries, including the loss of a finger and muscle damage when her arm was bitten to the bone. But without the intervention of the five men she could have been killed.

Cleary was jailed for two years and seven months on Thursday after pleading guilty to owning a dog dangerously out of control when a person was injured and breaching a court order.

Cleary (pictured) was jailed for two years and seven months on Thursday after pleading guilty to owning a dog dangerously out of control when a person was injured and breaching a court order

He had previously been banned from owning an animal for 10 years as a youth due to neglect.

Prosecutor Carmel Pearson said Mary was walking in woodland off Kirk Lane, Yeadon, near Leeds, when the dog attacked her at around 9.40am on August 27 last year.

She said men working in a nearby factory heard her ‘chilling’ screams and found her lying in the muddy pond.

The men tried to get the dog to release its grip on the victim by kicking it in the head and hitting it with a metal pole, which it then bit.

Mary is pictured in hospital after being attacked by the dog. She suffered severe injuries and needed stitches for a bite to her right cheek

She suffered severe injuries, including the loss of a finger and muscle damage when her arm was bitten to the bone

Miss Pearson said one of the men was bitten during the incident but ‘did not initially feel it as he was so intent on rescuing her’.

As one of the men leapt a wall to escape, Cleary appeared at the scene and showed concern for the victim.

He told police the dog’s collar was too thin for it, slipped off and the dog got hold of the woman’s coat, at which point he ran away to get help.

He said his girlfriend had bought him the dog a week before the incident after it had been trained to fight by a previous owner. He told officers to put the dog down.

Mother of one Mary was so traumatised by the attack that she has been left with no memory of what happened to her. She is pictured in hospital were she needed stitches in her cheek after being bitten on her face

Mary suffered muscle damage in one of her arms and needed a skin graft and a blood transfusion. She also needed stitches for a bite to her right cheek and suffered bites to her body.

Rebecca Penfold, mitigating, said Cleary, of Leeds, was remorseful, had alcohol misuse issues and a delay in the case coming to court had ‘a tremendous effect on him.’

Judge Neil Clark ordered the dog to ‘be destroyed’, saying it had not bitten during an assessment in which it was taunted but it still could not be safely re-homed.

Cleary was banned from owning animals for a further 10 years.

Sentencing, the judge said: ‘This was a particularly vicious attack.’

Det Insp James Entwistle, of Leeds District CID, said: ‘This was truly an appalling incident where the elderly victim went through an absolutely horrendous ordeal being mauled by this large and powerful dog while she was out for a walk in the park.

‘She suffered very serious and significant injuries that have required long-term medical treatment and has been left understandably psychologically traumatised.

‘A number of nearby members of the public bravely went to her aid and managed to get the dog off her and I would like to pay tribute to the courage and community spirit they displayed during this incident.

‘The lengthy prison term that Cleary has received should serve as a stark reminder to others of how seriously offences such as this will be treated, and we hope it will provide some level of reassurance to the victim who is having to live with the consequences of his irresponsible actions.’

Mary suffered muscle damage in one of her arms and needed a skin graft and a blood transfusion

Mother of one Mary was so traumatised by the attack that she has been left with no memory of what happened to her.

In the days that followed the incident she said: ‘It was a lovely quiet day and something made me turn around to go home.

‘I saw it out of the corner of my eye and apart from that I can’t remember anything. The hospital told me it was the body’s self defence mechanism kicking in because of the trauma.

‘I can’t thank the men who saved me enough for what they did, they were so brave and they saved my life.’

Picture of the area of woodland off Kirk Lane, Yeadon, near Leeds near to where Mary was attacked by the dog 

Her partner Trevor Cornwell, 72, said: ‘I had been doing some gardening at home and Mary decided to go off for a walk around the woods and this thing came at her through the bushes and brought her to the ground.

‘It dragged her off the path and into a pond and I’m sure that if those guys hadn’t heard her screams it would have killed her, it was completely berserk.

‘The injuries it caused are horrific, not like anything I have ever seen from a dog attack.

Mary’s arm is pictured in a bandage after she spent time recovering from her injuries in hospital

‘One of the men who saved her caught it on video as he held it at bay with a stick and it was massive, just solid muscle and very very aggressive, she never stood a chance.

‘It took off a large part of the back of her right arm. The surgeons have done their best with skin grafts, some were successful; and other weren’t.

‘But the agony she has been through and trauma of that will always stay with her, I’m just doing my best to look after her, it’s a miracle she’s still here.

‘We’re dog owners ourselves, we have a black labrador, but it’s beyond me why anyone would want to keep a dog like that, it was an absolute monster.

‘It took five men to beat the thing off her, all five of them, and if they hadn’t it would have been an even more terrible outcome.’

The modest heroes who saved Mary’s life declined to be named, but one of them said: ‘I have never seen injuries like that from a dog attack. I can only liken it to a lion pulling an antelope about, it really was horrific.

‘There were five of us in the end trying to hit the dog off with sticks but it wasn’t moving at all.

‘It was my colleague in the end who decided a better way rather than hitting it was to put the stick in front of it to try to get it to take the stick.’

His colleague said: ‘I got the biggest stick I could and tried to push it away. The dog took hold of the end of the stick and it allowed my colleagues to pull her out.’

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