VERDICT: Aaron Joseph’s ‘arrogance’ over killer dog led to savage and deadly attack on David Ellam

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Family pays emotional tribute to much-loved former lollipop man who died protecting his pet

A talented semi-professional footballer has been jailed for 10 years after his dog attacked and killed a neighbour.

Father-of-three Aaron Joseph, 30, of Sheepridge, blew a kiss to his family from the dock as he was sent down by a judge at Leeds Crown Court.

Joseph’s bull terrier Alex savaged former lollipop man David Ellam, 52, outside his home in Riddings Road in August 2016.

Mr Ellam was trying to protect his own dog, a Yorkshire terrier called Rollo, when the dog pounced.

A jury heard how Mr Ellam screamed for help as the dog clamped its jaws around his leg. A neighbour threw him a knife to fight off the animal – but he refused to use it.

He lost consciousness and was dragged down the path by the dog.

A police officer eventually forced the dog to release Mr Ellam using a fire extinguisher. Mr Ellam had lost a lot of blood and died later from his injuries.

Joseph had denied being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control but was convicted after a trial. A jury needed just 39 minutes to return a guilty verdict.

Judge Sally Cahill QC sentenced Joseph to 10 years’ imprisonment, of which he will serve half before he can be released on licence. He was also banned from owning a dog for life.

The court heard how Alex had repeatedly attacked other people and Joseph had refused to have the dog muzzled or kept on a lead when outside.

The dog had been seized by West Yorkshire Police but was returned after being found not to be a registered dangerous breed.

The judge said the dog was allowed to kill because of his “arrogance” in refusing to control it .

She said: “It is difficult to consider a case of greater culpability than this, other than where an owner deliberately causes a dog to attack, but that would of course, be charged differently.”

Mr Ellam’s partner Claire Josling told in a victim impact statement how she was haunted by the memories of the attack.

She said: “Speaking personally, I have suffered anxiety and many sleepless nights since losing Dave.

“I can still remember getting the phone call saying Dave had been attacked by a dog and attending hospital. I am haunted by the memories.”

Mr Ellam was a big Huddersfield Town fan and Ms Josling said one of her regrets was that he did not see the club play in the Premier League.

She added: “He has missed his beloved Huddersfield Town being promoted to the Premier League, which was his lifelong dream.

“It is simply unthinkable that anyone would die in the circumstances Dave did.

“Dave, as he was known to everyone, was someone that once met was hard to forget.

“Losing Dave was like someone had turned out the light in our lives.”

After the hearing Richard Walters, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said in a statement: “This was an appalling case in which a man lost his life in the most shocking way in a horrific, brutal and sustained dog attack.

“The CPS were able to present evidence to the court to show that Joseph had failed to comply with a previous control order, which stated that the dog must be muzzled, kept on a lead, insured, neutered and micro-chipped.

“In addition he chose to place a dog which he knew to have a history of attacking neighbours in a pen in the communal garden of the flats where he lived.

“Aaron Joseph’s failure to comply with the control order together with his failure to take adequate steps to secure his dog led directly the tragic death of Mr Ellam.

“The gravity of this crime is reflected in the severity of the sentence imposed today.

“I hope this is of some comfort to Mr Ellam’s family and friends, as well as the local community, of which he was a well-known and much-loved member.”

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