THE owner of an American pit bull which launched a “vicious attack” on a cyclist cried in the dock as a judge sent him to jail and ordered his dog be put down.

Shaun Dwyer, 26, wept as he was given an immediate prison sentence at Liverpool Crown Court.

The court heard victim Mark McDuff, who was cycling to work at around 6am on the morning of June 13 last year, had suffered “serious injuries” in the attack.

READ > Man attacked by pit bull while cycling to work

The dog had got out of Dwyer’s home in Fidler Street, Toll Bar and launched an attack on Mr McDuff which left him needing surgery and stitches.

Prosecuting, Chris Hopkins, told the court the victim was “cycling to work along Crossley Road and his vision was drawn to what he described as a large white dog that approached him and gave chase”.

Mr Hopkins added: “He knew that he wasn’t going to get away from the dog" which “grabbed” his ankle.

He said Mr McDuff “fell to the ground and can’t remember what happened" adding: "He can recall jumping to someone’s garden and attempted to get away from the dog but the dog followed him jumping into the garden continuing to bite into him”.


A photo showing some of the injuries suffered by the victim

A photo showing some of the injuries suffered by the victim


Mr Hopkins added the victim “was doing everything to get it off him shouting for help” and saw a neighbour and told her “he was being attacked asking for help”.

The court was told the neighbour contacted the police and McDuff saw a “red car arrive” which the defendant got out of.

Mr Hopkins said “the defendant looked shocked” and told Mr McDuff “he was the owner of the dog and stayed with him”.

The court was told the victim was “operated” on the next day and given a washout and repair for “dog bite wounds to his left forearm and right ankle”, which were among the injuries he suffered.

He has suffered both “physical” and “psychological” harm due to the attack, it was said.


A photo showing some of the injuries suffered by the victim

A photo showing some of the injuries suffered by the victim


Mr Hopkins told the court that when police arrived the defendant was described as “agitated” and “told the officer he had nothing to do” with the incident and “didn’t take responsibility for the ownership of the dog”.

At Dwyer’s address it was found the dog’s “cage was broken” and the defendant was arrested.

In police interview, when shown a photo of the broken cage Dwyer had said “wow and laughed”.

Dwyer had pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control causing injury and to possession of a fighting dog.

The court heard that in 2013, an order was imposed that Dwyer be permitted to keep the dog, which was “a prohibited breed” on condition a number of requirements be met, including that it be kept muzzled and that he had third-party insurance.

However, the insurance had “expired” in April 2020, more than a year before the attack, although the defendant had insurance documents for the years prior to this.

Defending, Michael Davies said Dwyer had the dog, which is 11 years old, since it was a puppy without any issues and read neighbours’ accounts that he was “a responsible dog owner”.

He said Dwyer claimed the house had been burgled which led to the dog being able to escape.

Mr Davies asked the dog to not be destroyed and that Dwyer be spared an immediate jail sentence.


Liverpool Crown Court

Liverpool Crown Court


However, judge Recorder David Knifton QC said he “disagreed with the suggestion (Dwyer) was a responsible dog owner”.

Passing sentence the judge said the victim was “subject to a terrifying attack during which he was bitten to his arms, leg and both feet”.

He added: “The victim suffered serious injuries. I have seen the photos showing the various wounds, in particular to his forearm which required surgery.”

The judge said Dwyer had “rather belatedly expressed remorse for the attack. I’m told that you have moved to a more secure address. The address at which the dog was previously kept was insecure” with some “fence missing”.

“You seem to blame your landlord for failing to report that,” the judge told Dwyer adding an “able-bodied 26-year-old would have been “capable” of putting something in it to “prevent the dog from escaping”.


Shaun Dwyer was sent to prison at Liverpool Crown Court

Shaun Dwyer was sent to prison at Liverpool Crown Court


The judge added: “I disagree with the suggestion that you are a responsible dog owner, a responsible dog owner would have ensured that the third-party insurance was up to date and that the dog remained secured in its place.”

Judge Knifton said he “took into account” Dwyer’s “previous convictions albeit for offences of a different character” and that he had never received a prison sentence before.

Jailing Dwyer, of Roby Street, Toll Bar, for 28 months, the judge said: “I cannot divorce from my mind the nature and severity of the attack which was carried out here.”

The judge also ordered the destruction of the pit-bull terrier and disqualified Dwyer from keeping a dog for 10 years.

Dad Dwyer cried as the sentence was passed, with his hands on the back of his head.

He said to his partner and family in the public gallery: “I’m so sorry, I never wanted this to happen.

"Tell the kids I'm sorry. I didn't want this to happen."