Thug hit dog then tried to gouge police officer's eyes after drinking bottle of Jack Daniel's

-Credit: (Image: Merseyside Police)
-Credit: (Image: Merseyside Police)

A thug who downed a bottle of Jack Daniel's repeatedly struck his dog in the face in front of shocked children and families in a park - then attacked police officers called to the scene.

Kyle Vaughan allegedly threatened to 'set his dog on children' after being confronted over his vile behaviour, a court was told. He then turned his attentions to police officers who were called to the scene, punching one several times and attempting to gouge the eyes of another.

Vaughan, 27, who has 20 previous convictions for 37 offences, has now been jailed.

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Liverpool Crown Court heard on Tuesday that Merseyside Police were called to Hesketh Park in Southport shortly before 3pm on April 28 due to his "aggressive behaviour". Eyewitness reported seeing Vaughan, of Leyland Road in the town, involved in an altercation with another dog owner, during which he was said to have pulled his own dog Honey away and slapped her three to four times to the face.

Geoffrey Lowe, prosecuting, described how Vaughan was confronted and began shouting and swearing towards members of the public in the "busy public place, where children were present". One witness reported seeing him "hold his dog up as if to attack people" then "walking towards a pram", causing the mum to pick her baby up and cradle the child in her arms "fearing that the dog was going to attack".

The mum, reports the Echo, told officers that she had been in the park with her partner and three children when she heard barking and saw Vaughan striking his German Shepherd with its lead before punching it "directly in the face". After being challenged, he allegedly made reference to "setting his dog on children", the court heard.

Liverpool Crown Court -Credit:Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Crown Court -Credit:Liverpool Echo

The defendant was said to have shaken hands with a man and woman at one stage in an apparent apology, but then "threatened to smash the male's face in" only seconds later and "threatened to get his dog to attack everyone". When the police attended the scene and attempted to detain him, Vaughan pulled his arm away from one officer and repeatedly punched the PC in the face causing swelling and bruising.

He then attempted to gouge the eyes of another during a struggle on the floor, leaving him with grazes to his nose and hand. His efforts to resist arrest continued as he spat at the emergency service workers and kicked out as he was led towards a van.

Under interview, Vaughan told detectives that he had been staying at the nearby Salfordian Hotel but had to leave due to a lack of funds. He said he had consumed a bottle of Jack Daniel's that morning, and that his dog "became excited" as several others were off their leads and "began jumping up".

After this, he maintained that he had only "tapped it on the nose in order to control it" but other parkgoers had then intervened. Vaughan, who has 20 previous convictions for 37 offences, added that he "didn't use his dog as a threat in any way" and denied punching or gouging the eyes of the police officers.

Kyra Badman, defending, told the court: "The defendant would say that he was trying to discipline his dog. It is clearly incompetent care, but there was an element of trying to discipline rather than being cruel. It is an unpleasant incident. Mr Vaughan was homeless at the time and he was living between hostels.

"Alcohol has been a significant part of Mr Vaughan's life for many years. That morning, he had drank an entire bottle of whisky in a relatively short space of time. It perhaps explains his reaction at the starting point of this incident. He was trying to do the right thing as a dog owner, but accepts that he went about it in the wrong way.

"The dog meant a lot to him. One of his associates was unable to care for this dog, and he had looked after the dog for about seven months. When members of the public became involved and the police attended, Mr Vaughan's primary concern was that his dog would be removed from his care - which has subsequently happened. This has had a significant impact on Mr Vaughan.

"He has had periods of homeless from school age. Alcohol has been used for several years as a way of self medicating to deal with what he has been through in the past, and he has struggled with associated mental health difficulties."

Vaughan admitted affray, two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. Appearing via video link to HMP Altcourse, he was jailed for a year.