He was giving a boy a high-five. Then an XL Bully savagely attacked him in Strelley

A powerful XL Bully dog which left a man fearing for his life when it savagely attacked him outside a Nottingham pub is still on the loose 10 months on. Nottingham Crown Court heard how the police have been unable to find Gooch since he left the victim so badly injured with bite marks that he was in hospital for a week.

Shocking CCTV footage played in court showed the animal pouncing on the man as he tried to give a small boy a high five and was too strong for the man, who was knocked to the ground and then bitten. Later, he was to tell police that he thought he might die, believing the dog was going for his throat.

But despite extensive inquiries, Nottinghamshire Police have been unable to find Gooch, who, at the time of the incident, was under the control of 55-year-old Phillip Williams, who was holding the lead for his daughter.

Handing Williams a 12-month community order, Recorder John Hardy KC said: “I am of the view that the police, as a matter of public safety, make urgent inquiries to endeavour to find the dog because I am going to impose a destruction order on it. It’s appalling to think this animal could potentially be on the loose in playgrounds or near schools. This breed is notorious, it’s like taking care of a bomb.

'Such is the nature of the beast'

“Mr Willoiams, I accept this all very, very, unfortunate for you and you did your best to keep this bully dog off the victim. But an able-bodied man in his prime would have found it impossible, such is the nature of the beast.”

-Credit:Reach Plc
-Credit:Reach Plc

Laura Pitman, prosecuting, said the attack happened outside the Broad Oak Inn, in Strelley, at around 5.30pm on July 15, last year. In the footage played to the court, the victim was seen walking towards a table where the defendant and a young boy were sitting and Gooch was on a lead.

In the clip, the boy holds his right arm up for a high five with the victim who, as he goes to give him one, is suddenly pounced on by the animal. The video showed the dog grabbing hold of the man’s stomach and forcing him to the floor before sinking its teeth into his leg and pulling on it for around 20 seconds or so.

Gooche then bit the man’s hoodie and pulled it clean off him before the victim was able to stagger off-screen and into the pub bleeding.

Miss Pitman said: “While he was on the floor he was repeatedly shouting ‘get him off me, get him off me’. He felt that the dog was going to go for his throat and was not going to stop. He described fearing for his life. The defendant tried to intervene but what he did had no effect on the dog whatsoever.”

In the clip the dog is eventually pulled off the victim, who goes to the pub toilet and staff call for an ambulance, which arrives around 10 minutes later. The prosecutor said he spent a week at the Queen’s Medical Centre and had suffered bite marks and injuries to his chest, stomach and leg which required 20 stitches.

She said: “The police published an article online and a witness came forward and identified the defendant's daughter who told them she had been asked to look after the dog by a man and on that day had gone to the toilet and asked her father to hold the dog's lead for her. In his interview, the defendant was asked if he went to check on the victim and he replied ‘no’. He said he did not know what the extent of the injuries were but saw an ambulance take him away.”

The judge asked Miss Pitman: “What’s happened to the dog?” She replied: “The police can't find it. The daughter was not able to say where the dog had gone and Mr Eilliams was also asked where the dog was and said ‘it’s gone’.”

Williams, of Pavilion Road, West Bridgford, pleaded guilty to being in control of a dog which was dangerously out of control. In a victim impact statement the man Gooch attacked, who works as a self-employed joiner, said he had lost £4,000 in earnings and is now too embarrassed to take his son swimming because of the scars on his body.

Jahbeen Akhtar, mitigating, said the defendant gave up his work as a joiner and plasterer so he could care full-time for his elderly mother.

She said: “He has since fallen out with his daughter about this.” The judge replied: “I am not surprised, he has taken the rap. It seems there is a potential, and I stress potential, case for an argument that failing to disclose whereabouts or knowledge of the dog amounts to the offence of perverting the course of justice.”

As part of the community order, the judge ordered Williams to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and to pay the victims £1,400 compensation.

Police Constable Natalie Hodges of Nottinghamshire Police said: “The victim of this attack suffered significant injuries and required hospital treatment for a week. He is still in pain every day and has been unable to return fully to work.

“However, the impact on him emotionally has gone much further than these physical scars. It has affected his mental health, made him anxious about going out and scared of dogs.

“I’d like to thank him for supporting our investigation and prosecution. Dogs, especially large, powerful animals like the one in this incident, must be kept under control in public settings so I’m pleased our investigation has seen Williams identified and sentenced by the court.

“I hope this also sends a message to other dog owners about the importance of being in control of their pets at all times. We are continuing our extensive efforts to trace the dog. Officers have already made enquiries with its former owner, local vets, council dog wardens, kennels and animal shelters.

"I would still like to hear from anyone with any information about its whereabouts. Please get in touch with us, in confidence, and your information will be acted upon."