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Man who denied owning pitbull found guilty over attack

A Sandys man whose “aggressive and vicious” pitbull attacked and bit his neighbour, leaving the woman with lasting nerve damage, has been found guilty in Magistrates’ Court.

Macray Bulford, 50, previously claimed before magistrate Tyrone Chin that he not only did not own the animal, but had never seen the dog before the night of the attack.

Bulford also denied offering compensation for the injuries sustained by his neighbour on Grandstand Lane in Somerset when she was bitten outside her home at 9pm on August 5, 2018 while taking out her trash at the end of the Cup Match holiday weekend.

The neighbour, Denise Steede, gave evidence that Bulford and his son struggled to pull the animal off her in the five-minute attack — including gripping the dog in a headlock and trying to cut her clothing free from its jaws, first with a knife and then with scissors.

Pitbulls were an unlawful breed of dog in 2018, and the animal, which was euthanised, was unlicensed.

Mr Chin accepted the evidence from the neighbour as well as Jeffrey Benevides, an animal control officer with more than 30 years’ experience, who told the court Bulford agreed to “surrender” the dog after it was captured outside a property on Somerset Road — where Mr Chin ruled that the defendant had abandoned it.

The victim subsequently identified the brown male pitbull from photographs as the animal that had attacked her.

Mr Benevides contacted Bulford, informing him that his dog had been captured.

The officer said Bulford stated he would give up the animal but that “at the time his girlfriend did not want to”.

Mr Chin in his summary of the trial noted that Bulford maintained he had been a “good neighbour”, intervening after he heard screaming and that he had never seen the dog before the attack.

Questioned by his lawyer Bruce Swan, Bulford denied dumping it on Somerset Road, and said he had never accepted ownership or offered compensation to Ms Steede, who had to be treated in hospital.

But Mr Chin ruled he was “not a witness of credibility and truth”, also finding him guilty of keeping an unlicensed dog, and of being in charge of a dog that caused injury.

He said the trial had “finally commenced” this June on its eighth time before the courts, after Bulford failed on three occasions to appear.

T’Deana Spencer, for the Crown, asked for a sentencing date in September so that she could obtain a victim impact statement as well as receipts for Ms Steede’s medical expenses.

The victim said she had previously heard the dog barking from Bulford’s home, in a Bermuda Housing Corporation complex where he also kept rottweilers against BHC rules.

Ms Steede said she was turning to go back to her house when the dog, which was growling, came running from the back of Bulford’s house.

It jumped at her, with her left hand going “straight into its mouth” before she could pull it free.

She was bitten on the left thigh during the struggle, when the dog’s teeth fastened on her shorts.

Bulford and his son came to her assistance, and the defendant “put the dog in a headlock”, telling his son to fetch a knife, followed by scissors when they could not cut her away her clothing from its jaws.

She was instructed to keep still, then to run once she had been cut free.

The woman said Bulford later helped her to clean the wound at her home before she went to hospital for “multiple stitches” and a tetanus booster shot.

She said she encountered Bulford the next day after attending her doctor’s office.

They discussed the severity of her injuries, the fact that she would have to miss work, and that he would have to get rid of the dog “not only for my sake, but for others neighbours’ safety”.

Bulford said he would “deal with it”. The victim said Bulford came to her house on August 8, when they discussed the matter further and he shared his telephone number.

She said she called Bulford the next day, and that she was told she would be compensated for her injuries.

The court heard that he “stated he was going to get rid of the dog or put it down”.

But she was never compensated and, when she continued to hear the dog barking, “realised he was not being genuine”.

The victim was left with nerve damage in her left hand and “terrified of dogs”.

Mr Benevides received the complaint on August 16, and on August 17 the animal control officer was notified by police of “a dog left outside a home on Somerset Road”, which he then seized and photographed for the victim to identify.

In Mr Benevides’s evidence, the court heard that only someone familiar with a dog of that size would grip it by the neck if they encountered it attacking someone, which Mr Chin found “a very valid point”.

He ruled Bulford guilty on both counts and set a sentencing date for next month.

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