A pet dog intervened to save a woman after her abusive boyfriend punched her in the face knocking out her front teeth. The Staffordshire bull terrier bit Liam Gove so hard that he needed to spend two days in hospital having treatment for the wound.
Gove, 24, had earlier beaten the dog before turning on his partner, who he is now expecting a baby with. But the ‘vicious and unprovoked’ attack was brought to an abrupt end when the Staffie fought back.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard heard Gove flew into a rage late at night when they had been drinking and had agreed to go to bed, but his partner then overheard him booking a taxi and asked where he was going. He first lashed out at the dog, hitting the animal repeatedly before turning his anger on his girlfriend.
General view of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen. Gove had to spend two days in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary after the dog bite (Credits: PA)
He punched the woman twice to the face, leaving her nose bleeding and knocking out two teeth, before the dog came to her aid.
As a result he spent two days at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary having the bite wounds cleaned and stitched. Despite the attack on March 29 the couple are still together, the court heard, and are now seeking to rehome the dog.
Fiscal depute Christy Ward told Aberdeen Sheriff Court the couple had been together for about four and a half years. On the night in question, Gove’s girlfriend went into the bathroom at about 2.20am and challenged him about where he was going.
‘He refused to tell her where he intended to go, which resulted in an argument,’ Ms Ward said. ‘The complainer attempted to leave the bathroom which infuriated the accused and he tried to prevent her from doing so by placing his foot against the door, trapping her between the door and the door frame.
‘Their dog then came into the bathroom which further infuriated the accused. He tried to get the dog out but it would not go, so he began repeatedly striking the dog on the body causing it to yelp each time.’ Gove’s partner then managed to leave and went through to the bedroom.
Ms Ward said: ‘The accused followed her into the bedroom, seized her by the shoulder, turned her around and punched her twice in the face with such force that he knocked her two front teeth out and caused her nose to bleed. ‘The dog began to bite the accused, bringing an end to the incident.’
A general view of Aberdeen Sheriff Court Gove appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Picture: PA) Gove, of Aberdeen, where the offence happened, pled guilty to a domestically aggravated charge of assault to severe injury, and to causing a dog unnecessary suffering by repeatedly striking it on the body. Defending, Gail Goodfellow said: ‘He does have a history of depression for which he is currently medicated and has been for years.
It does seem likely his poor mental health, together with inappropriate use of alcohol, contributed to his behaviour on this occasion.’ Mrs Goodfellow said the offences were ‘out of character’ and that he was so drunk at the time he does not remember the incident.
Sheriff William Summers told Gove: ‘Your behaviour on March 29 was despicable and this offending is simply deplorable. ‘You started by beating a defenceless animal and went on to carry out a vicious and unprovoked attack on your partner.
‘It’s quite clear, even at the relatively young age of 24, you have become a serial domestic abuser. ‘Given the gravity of this offence, it is difficult to see why a custodial sentence should not be imposed, but there are some mitigating factors.’
The sheriff mentioned Gove never having been in custody before, and his partner relying on him. He added: ‘Most importantly, and for reasons I can barely fathom, your partner still wants to continue a relationship with you.
‘She clearly needs your support.’ He handed Gove two years’ supervision, ordered him to complete the Caledonian programme and gave him 300 hours of unpaid work. He also banned him from owning or keeping dogs for five years.