Owner of bull terrier that killed neighbour jailed for 10 years

Aaron Joseph’s dog mauled David Ellam as he tried to defend his Yorkshire terrier from attack

Aaron Joseph had ignored a court order requiring his dog be muzzled, neutered and kept on a lead in public.

Aaron Joseph had ignored a court order requiring his dog be muzzled, neutered and kept on a lead in public.
Photograph: West Yorkshire police/PA

A man whose bull terrier attacked and killed his neighbour has been jailed for 10 years.

Aaron Joseph, 30, was found guilty of owning the dog which killed 52-year-old David Ellam while it was dangerously out of control in August 2016.

The female crossbreed bull terrier attacked Ellam outside his flat in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, as he tried to defend his own pet, a Yorkshire terrier, from the dog. He suffered serious injuries and died 12 hours later at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Neighbours told the court that they heard screams for help from Ellam as the dog mauled him. One said they had grabbed a knife to try and stab the animal, but it only released Ellam after a police officer sprayed it with a fire extinguisher.

Aaron Joseph.

The circumstances of Aaron Joseph’s offence were described as ‘nothing short of horrendous’. Photograph: West Yorkshire Police/PA

The jury was told that the dog had attacked people before and was the subject of an order requiring it to be muzzled, neutered and kept on a lead in public. Joseph ignored all terms of the order.

Police seized the dog in June 2016 following complaints from members of the public, but it was determined that the animal was not a pit bull terrier, a breed banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, and it was returned to its owner just eight days before it killed Ellam.

An investigation was launched by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) after Ellam’s death into the decision by West Yorkshire police to return the dog to its owner.

Sentencing Joseph, Judge Sally Cahill said the circumstances of his offence were “nothing short of horrendous”.

“On the 15th August 2016, Mr David Ellam met his death in the most appalling manner,” she said. “He came out of his own front door and on his doorstep, he was attacked and mauled to death by your dog, Alex.

“Because of your arrogance, this dog, which should have been carefully and strictly controlled, was kept in circumstances whereby she was able to escape and attack Mr Ellam.

“You did things and failed to do things which in my judgement were not minimal, they were the root cause of this death. You could have muzzled Alex. That one simple act, in compliance with the court order, would have prevented this tragedy.”

She added: “All this leads to a conclusion that you bear substantial if not complete responsibility for the events that morning. This attack happened because of your arrogant and stubborn disregard for the welfare and safety of others in the community.”

Katherine Pierpoint, mitigating, said Joseph was “genuinely shocked” when he saw what had happened to Ellam. “He never realised it would happen,” she said.