DNA from dog helps to jail gunman

A man responsible for a carjacking at gunpoint was jailed thanks to crucial DNA from his pet dog, police said yesterday.

Dog hairs and blood samples were matched to Peter Mahoney's Staffordshire bull terrier, Buster, after the car he stole was found burnt out. Mahoney, 33, of Anerley Road, Norwood, south-east London, was handed an indeterminate sentence and will serve at least four years behind bars.

Maidstone Crown Court heard he racially abused a customer in a shop in Anerley Road after an exchange over the use of a mobile phone on 5 November 2008. Mahoney fetched an air pistol from his house and returned to look for the victim. He then shot him in the face as he sat in his car, leaving him with a pellet permanently lodged in his jaw.

The next day in London Road, near Dartford, Kent, Mahoney told a group of friends eating pizza on a garage forecourt that he was a police officer and ordered them out of the car. He then got inside and drove off, and it was found burnt out six days later.

However, dog hairs and blood left behind by Buster led to his owner's conviction. Mahoney pleaded guilty to racially aggravated wounding and possession of a firearm and to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm the following day.

Judge Martin Joy QC told him: "You present a significant risk to the public due to your pattern of violent offending. You have a violent nature and those who behave as you have done will always be severely punished and the public need to be protected."

The judge said he would be on licence for life after release.