'Arrogant' pet owner whose dangerous dog mauled neighbour to death is jailed for 10 years

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Aaron Joseph (left) has been jailed for 10 years after his cross breed bull terrier Alex attacked and killed David Ellam (right) (PA)

An ‘arrogant’ dog owner whose vicious pet mauled a neighbour to death despite being subject to a control order has been jailed for 10 years.

Aaron Joseph’s cross breed bull terrier Alex attacked and killed David Ellam, 52, outside his flat after digging under a fence in August 2016.

Mr Ellam was heard to scream “help me, please somebody help me” as the dog savaged him and dragged in on the ground with its jaw clamped on his leg.

He suffered serious injuries during the horrific attack and died 12 hours later at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

It took a jury just 40 minutes to find Joseph, who is the father of an eight-year-old and 14-month-old twins, guilty of having a dog which caused injury resulting in death whilst dangerously out of control.

The dog was already subject to a control order (PA)

The court heard that Alex had previously attacked other neighbours and was subject to an order meaning she had to be muzzled, neutered and on a lead in public.

Sentencing Joseph, 30, Judge Sally Cahill said the attack happened because of Joseph’s “arrogant and stubborn disregard” for the welfare and safety of others.

Joseph, described as a semi-professional footballer, blew a kiss to the public gallery as he was led to the cells.

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Former lollipop man Mr Ellam was set upon outside his flat in Huddersfield, West Yorks., by the snarling animal which had dug its way out of a pen nearby.

It grabbed hold of him by the arm before biting his leg and neighbours described in court hearing desperate screams for help.

One fetched a knife to stab the animal, but the dog only released Mr Ellam after a police officer sprayed a fire extinguisher at its face.

Jpseph (left) claimed to have been “shocked” that his dog attacked and killed Mr Ellam (PA)

Mr Ellam’s partner Claire described how “losing Dave was like turning out the light” in her life in a victim impact statement.

She said she had suffered anxiety and sleepless nights since the “simply unthinkable” attack.

In mitigation, Katherine Pierpoint said Joseph, who worked as a courier and played football for FC Emley, said: “He was genuinely shocked when he saw what had happened.

“He never realised it would happen.”

Sentencing Joseph, Judge Sally Hill said: “The circumstances of this offence are nothing short of horrendous.

“On the 15th August 2016, Mr David Ellam met his death in the most appalling manner.

“He came out of his own front door and on his doorstep, he was attacked and mauled to death by your dog, Alex.

“Because of your arrogance, this dog, which should have been carefully and strictly controlled, was kept in circumstances whereby she was able to escape and attack Mr Ellam.

Detective Chief inspector Mark Swift read a statement outside Leeds Crown Court with Dave Ellam’s family and friends, including girlfriend Claire Josling (right) (PA)

“You did things and failed to do things which in my judgement were not minimal, they were the root cause of this death.

“You could have muzzled Alex. That one simple act, in compliance with the Court Order, would have prevented this tragedy.

“I am quite sure a muzzle was not used by you that morning by you. Had a muzzle been properly used, Mr Ellam would still be alive today.

“All this leads to a conclusion that you bear substantial if not complete responsibility for the events that morning.

“This attack happened because of your arrogant and stubborn disregard for the welfare and safety of others in the community.”