Death row dog saved after £60,000 legal battle

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The Independent Online

Death row dog Dino was granted a last minute reprieve by a judge today.

Death row dog Dino was granted a last minute reprieve by a judge today.

The seven-year-old German Shepherd was put under a destruction order by magistrates in July 2001 after he bit a woman who tried to intervene in a fight between Dino and her pet terrier.

But three years, and £60,000 worth of court appeals by owner Bryan Lamont, paid off today when the destruction order was rescinded.

At Northampton Crown Court Judge Patrick Eccles QC lifted the destruction order and praised Mr Lamont's tenacity for saving the life of his best friend.

The judge said: "A dog will have his day said the Bard and Mr Lamont's devotion has allowed Dino to have his day.

"If a Scotsman with deep pockets and spirit takes on the judiciary to vindicate his dog, the contest is likely to be vigorous and prolonged."

Dino's owners Bryan and Carol Lamont launched a string of failed appeals to overturn the order, imposed under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

Their pet was temporarily saved from death when the Lamonts resorted to a body set up to help humans who have been victims of miscarriages of justice.

The Lamonts' legal battle has seen Dino's case pass from Northampton Magistrates' Court to Northampton Crown Court, to the High Court, the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.

After exhausting all avenues in the courts, the Lamonts and their lawyers had one chance left – the Criminal Cases Review Commission, set up in 1995 to review suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It was the first time the CCRC had looked into the case of a family pet and in its ruling, it referred the case back to Northampton Crown Court.

The case has become a cause celebre among animal lovers nationwide.

Dino was sentenced to death after he bit the hand of Elizabeth Coull as she tried to separate him from her own pet terrier, Ralph.

The Lamonts, of Barn Owl Close, East Hunsbury, Northampton, say the incident was a one–off and that Dino is not a dangerous dog.

But in July 2001, Mr Lamont admitted allowing Dino to be out of control in Grangewood Park, Northants, causing an injury to another dog owner.

Magistrates in Northampton fined Mr Lamont £100 and ordered him to pay £2,552 in compensation to Mrs Coull.

Mr Lamont was in court with his daughter Carly but wife Carol remained at their Northampton home to care for Dino.