Dog owner acquitted over one police attack as it 'happened on privat land'


A man on trial over a pitbull attack that left five policemen injured was acquitted of one of the charges against him today.

Symieon Robinson-Pierre, 25, was cleared of a charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act of being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control in a public place at the direction of Judge Mark Bishop at Inner London Crown Court.

He ruled that the attack on Pc Marc Merritt that left him with wounds to his arm and thigh took place in the garden of Robinson-Pierre's east London home, which was private property.

Pc Merritt was one of a group of officers who were raiding Robinson-Pierre's house in Albert Square, Newham, on March 22 this year.

The court had previously heard that the police officers fled screaming after the dog attacked them during the raid - while locals stood and filmed the scene on their mobile phones.

The dog was shot four times by an armed police officer after five officers attempted to subdue it without success.

Judge Bishop, after hearing legal argument, told the jury the evidence showed the attack on Pc Merritt took place in the garden of the house and ordered them to acquit Robinson-Pierre of the charge.

"Following a submission of law I have ruled that the garden area behind the wall is not a public area," he said.

"Therefore, given the evidence about where Pc Merritt was attacked, count one must be withdrawn from you."

Robinson-Pierre still faces three identical charges relating to three other officers, Pcs Paul Garrard, Lee Bush and Steve Bones, while an attack by the animal on a fifth policeman, Pc Martin Corderoy, took place in the garden and was not the subject of a charge.

His barrister Craig Harris admitted the policemen had been injured by the pitbull in a public place, but asked the jury to consider whether the dog was "dangerously out of control" when it bit them or focusing "targeted aggression" against men who forced entry to the house and then hit it with batons.

He pointed out that the dog had not attacked anyone else in the street outside apart from the policemen.

Repeating an analogy with the Battle of Trafalgar used by the prosecution at the start of the trial to describe the bloodied scene of the attack, he said: "The Battle of Trafalgar was indeed dangerous but were the ships, individuals on them and their weapons dangerously out of control or was there a controlled aggression?

"If a young boy poked a dog in the eye with a stick and the dog attacked, biting the boy's hand, it probably acted aggressively. But would the dog be out of control? It is a targeted response, controlled by the dog, however aggressive the dog is."

He added: "The inference I invite you to draw is that the dog targeted its attack at those using force on it."

Robinson-Pierre denies three charges of being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control in a public place. The trial was adjourned until Monday.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'