Girl savaged by dogs to receive 15,000 pounds

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A FARMER whose pack of dogs savaged a 10-year-old girl, was ordered to pay her pounds 15,000 in compensation by a judge at Knutsford Crown Court yesterday.

Alan Gerrard, 62, was also banned from keeping dogs for 10 years. The court heard how Beverley Hirst, now 11, suffered terrible injuries to all parts of her body when at least 12 of the 38-strong pack attacked her last August.

Gerrard pleaded guilty to two specimen charges of keeping a dog which was dangerously out of control and injured Beverley.

David Hale, for the prosecution, told the court that Beverley and her sister Rachael, 12, were cycling past Gerrard's 100-acre dairy farm at Pickmere, Cheshire - less than 300 yards from their home - when the attack took place. He was out and there was no one to control the dogs.

Beverley stopped to stroke one of the dogs, which had come out into the road. It jumped up with its paws on her chest, but she pushed it away and screamed. 'She was then encircled by barking dogs, jumping at her, and could not get away.'

Mr Hale said Rachael tried to rescue her sister, but when her attempts failed she rode home to get their mother, Pamela.

When Mrs Hirst arrived she could hardly recognise her daughter. 'Her T-shirt was torn to shreds and her hair was matted in blood.' She pushed the dogs aside and drove Beverley to hospital.

'Had she not come as quickly as she did, the injuries Beverley had suffered could have been even worse,' Mr Hale said.

The court was told that her left ear had been amputated, with only the ear lobe remaining. Her mother said in a statement that Beverley still had scarring on her left arm and face, some of which could be permanent, her hearing might be slightly impaired and she might need further surgery.

She added: 'Beverley is reluctant to talk about the incident. It has obviously affected her. She will not ride her bicycle or go outdoors as much as she did prior to the incident . . .'

Police managed to round up 32 of the dogs over four hours and one officer was bitten during the operation. Gerrard agreed that 28 of them could be put down at that stage, including 13 puppies.

Five more dogs were taken away and destroyed later, but Gerrard refused to allow another five to be destroyed. They were kept by police at kennels.

Christopher Limb, for the defence, described Gerrard as 'a very old-fashioned type of country man', who had taken over running the Cheshire farm, with its 100 cattle, single-handed from his father more than 20 years before.

He said Gerrard would need at least two dogs simply to control cattle he kept on the farm. But banning Gerrard from keeping dogs the judge, Huw Daniel, said it was 'to protect the public and in a sense to protect you too'.

He was also ordered to pay costs totalling pounds 7,583, to include the cost of keeping the five dogs in kennels, veterinary bills for destroying the other dogs and the cost of the case.