Two friends have described being attacked by two American Pitbull dogs while out walking - before escaping by scrambling through a bramble bush to take refuge atop a garden fence with the animals circled below.
Social media footage of the attack was shared at the time of the incident on Easter Sunday last year. It led to a major armed police response and a call for people to stay in their homes in the The Grove estate area in Hartcliffe.
Nine months on, the friends yesterday (January 23) told of what happened during the trial of the owner of the dogs - named Kilo and Dior - at Bristol Magistrates’ Court. The hearing resulted in Ashley Hoskins, 26, of Newland Road, being found guilty of being in charge of two dangerous dogs who were out of control.
Liam Ross and Lucas Withy told the court room that they were on their way from Hartcliffe to Dundry on the morning of April 17 when they saw the dogs race ahead of them, first appearing to be playful.
But after the friends split up, one of the dogs began to attack Mr Withy, who said he ‘felt threatened’, before it bit his calf. Mr Ross described seeing his friend with the grey-coloured Kilo attached to his leg and the dog snapping at his arms.
He told the court: “I walked towards [Mr Withy] around 10ft away and started to shout at the dogs to try and get them off.”
Mr Withy said Mr Ross then kicked the dog to stop the attack - then the dogs began to target Mr Ross by biting him on the arm and around his elbow.
The pair said they then escaped through a bramble bush before climbing atop a garden fence - the dogs followed and circled below. Here, Mr Withy recorded a short video showing the pair sitting on the fence with the dogs below, detailing his injuries - the video was shared heavily on Facebook and was eventually seen by the dogs’ owner who soon collected them, telling the court they were ‘playing with three people’ when he arrived.
After being helped into a back garden by a nearby resident, the pair flagged down a police car at around 11am which then escorted them to the Hengrove Walk-In Centre. Mr Withy had puncture wounds to the calf while Mr Ross had a puncture wound below his elbow.
Hoskins told Bristol Magistrates Court that he had opened his home door to let his dogs out in the garden in the morning of the attack, but then noticed the gate was not closed and the dogs bolted before he could shut it.
“I accept it was my responsibility to check if the gate was open before letting them out,” he said.
Hoskins, however, claimed that the dogs attacked both men because they were provoked. He said: “I’m sorry for what happened to them blokes but my dogs wouldn’t have done anything like this without being provoked.
“They aren’t even one year old, I have had them since they were ready to go and they’ve never shown aggression, not even in the house. They are friendly dogs, I have them around my kids and they’re fine - I wouldn’t have them around my children if they were dangerous, no way. I treat them like my babies.”
Mr Robyn Rowland, defending Hoskins, said both the victims had provoked the dogs before the attack. He presented the courtroom with a screenshot alleging to show a conversation Mr Withy had had with a friend shortly after the attack. It showed, he said, that the pair had kicked the dogs prior the incident.
After deliberating, the three magistrates presiding over the case magistrates Clare Redaway, James Morris and chair, Geoffrey Halls told Hoskins: “We find [Ross’ and Withy’s] accounts credible. We accepted your [Hoskins’] admission of responsibility for the gate being open.
“We find you guilty of being in charge of dangerous dogs who were out of control.”
Sentencing and a decision on whether to sanction destruction orders on the dogs has been adjourned until March 13 so a report can be filed by a dog behaviourist. Hoskins was granted unconditonal bail.