A MUM whose dog attacked three children in two separate incidents due to her "woeful lack of responsibility" has avoided being sent to prison.

Amy Briers, of Hempstead Close, Sutton Heath appeared in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court for sentencing after admitting three offences of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control.

The court heard that Briers, 33, had previously entered a “voluntary agreement” with the police for her pet, a Sharpei cross Staffordshire bull terrier, to always be on a lead and muzzled in public before the attacks due to the animal having already bitten at least one child.

Judge Ian Harris said Briers had displayed a “woeful and criminal lack of responsibility” as it was allowed to launch two further attacks on children in the street for which she was sentenced.   

The first attack saw an 11-year-old girl bitten to the forearm on July 11 in St Helens. Then two months later, the dog, which has since been put down, injured two five-year-old boys on September 21, resulting in both suffering “serious injuries” and needing surgery.

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However, the judge said he could suspend the sentence with Briers, who was not present at the scene of either attack, being a “sole carer” for three young children, including an autistic son.

Sentencing had been adjourned until today (Wednesday, May 22) last week because the judge was still awaiting information from St Helens Children’s Services about Briers’ children. Her defence had agreed the court would want to be satisfied there were proper plans in place for them.

Children attacked in two separate incidents 


Prosecuting barrister Callum Ross told the court that on May 23 last year Briers had “entered into a voluntary agreement with the police regarding the dog being muzzled and on a lead when out in a public place” after it had “previously bitten” children.

He said. “The defendant said she’d taken active steps to rehome the dog.”

Mr Ross added that in the first attack on July 11 at around 6.30pm, Briers’ son “approached” the girl victim asking if she “wanted to stroke the dog” and “it had only bitten one person”.

The child stated back she “doesn’t like dogs”.

Mr Ross said the Sharpei “unfortunately bit her to the right forearm and she was scared and crying” and had to have her injury cleaned and dressed.

He added: “The matter was reported to police, it is unclear why the defendant wasn’t dealt with before matters came to a head”.

On September 21, two boys were playing in the street when the mother of one of them “heard a piercing scream”. Mr Ross said she “found her child in the street with serious injuries, bites and puncture wounds deep into his arm”.

The dog, which had “ran from the defendant’s home”, had “bitten” the boy and “was dragging him around and there were puncture wounds to his abdomen and left forearm and he had to have surgery.”

The  boy has been “left with scarring and will need further surgery as he grows”.

St Helens Star: Briers was sentenced at Liverpool Crown CourtBriers was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court

Mr Ross said following the attack, the boy has been left with “concerns about his scars and struggling to manage emotions” and “not wanting to go outside and play”.

Meanwhile, the court heard the mum of the other boy who was attacked in the September 21 incident saw he had “blood dripping down his arm” and had a “serious injury to his right arm.”

He also “underwent surgery” and had a “chunk missing from his arm” and will need “further surgery for the scarring”.

The court heard how after the attack victim doesn’t want to “go out with his friends”.

Mr Ross said that in a police interview Briers had said she “didn’t know about the first incident” in which the girl was attacked on July 11. The court heard that her autistic son had, unknown to her, felt “sorry” for the dog, which was kept in a cage at home, and took it for a walk.

In relation to the attack on the boys in September, she said that “her son must have forgotten to shut the door behind him” and the dog had “escaped” the house.

'A devastating case for all involved'


Defending Briers, barrister Jamie Baxter asked for the judge to suspend Briers’ sentence.

He said: “This is a devastating case for all involved, the victims of the attacks, their families, but also this defendant and her family.”

Mr Baxter asked for full credit to be given for her guilty pleas and said she had no previous convictions.

“After the first incident (she) made genuine efforts to try and rehome” the animal, including to The Dogs Trust, putting a post on Facebook and to the police.

Mr Baxter added: “She is a good person, a good mother doing her best in very challenging circumstances, a single mother with a limited support network.”

The court heard the children would have to go into foster care if Briers were to be sent immediately to jail.

Mr Baxter added that she “demonstrated remorse” and argued an “assessment of the evidence diminishes her responsibility”.

Jail sentence suspended


Passing sentence on Briers, Judge Harris said: “In my judgement you displayed a woeful and criminal lack of responsibility, it was your responsibility to ensure the dog was safely kept” and she had “failed to ensure the safety of the public, in this case three young, vulnerable and terrified children”.

He added Briers’ culpability is “reckless” and “in my judgement serious harm was caused.”

However, the judge said he took in “mitigation” her guilty pleas, Briers having “three dependent young children” and being “a single mother with no previous convictions”. He added he accepted her remorse was “genuine”.  

The judge acknowledged the effect on Briers’ autistic son “would be catastrophic” if she were sent to prison adding “I take into account the emotional impact on the children.”

Judge Harris gave Briers concurrent sentences of two years, suspended for two years in relation to the attacks on the boys and a four-month concurrent term over the earlier attack on the girl.

Briers was disqualified from owning a dog for life and must do 100 hours unpaid work and undertake 10 days of rehabilitation activity.