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Falmouth man James Guilfoyle jailed for dog attack on girlfriend

By WBgdavies  |  Posted: December 18, 2012

  • Truro Court

  • Falmouth man James Guilfoyle jailed for dog attack on girlfriend

A Falmouth man has been jailed for two years after setting his American pitbull type dog on his girlfriend.

James Guilfoyle, 22, was found guilty of assualt causing actual bodily harm by a jury at Truro Crown Court on Friday.

It was during an argument with his new girlfriend that the dog, Marley began jumping up and down and bit her on her arm and leg,  prosecutor Iain White said.

Guilfoyle denied the charge.

Giving evidence from behind a screen 24-year-old care worker Gemma Nicholls told the court that she met Guilfoyle through a social internet site about four months before the attack and moved in with him in Oakfield Road, Falmouth, last November.

On February 13 this year they argued after he had gone upstairs to his sister's room and refused to let her in. He did not come down for about two hours by which time his mood had changed.

He pushed her in the chest, punched her on the chin and threw a nearly empty bottle which struck her on the head.

"Miss Nicholls went to the ground and was kicked, and Guilfoyle told Marley to 'get her'" said Mr White.  "She leapt out of the lounge window and ran down the road to a neighbours, wearing only her pyjamas and nothing on her feet.  Guilfoyle and the dog followed her."

In the witness box Guilfoyle told the jury that he had been upstairs with his sister planing a surprise Valentine's Day card and present for Miss Nicholls.  She had drunk about three quarters of the bottle of wine before they argued.

He alleged that his girlfriend had picked up a knife and threatened him. He had not set Marley on her and had not run after her down the road.  Marley, he explained, was afraid of knives because it had suffered four stab wounds last year.

Neighbour David Wicks said he had been awakened by loud banging on the door and found Miss Nicholls distraught and crying.  The dog followed her into the house but was quite calm, pet-like.

Defence counsel Brian Fitzgerald said that Guilfoyle had a drink-driving conviction but none involving violence. A factory worker in Falmouth, Guilfoyle had taken courses while in custody and he was supported by his mother and  family.

Judge Graham Cottle told Guilfoyle he had committed a sustained and vicious attack in which he had encouraged his dog to bit Miss Nicholls, who was terrified. "It was not the first time you had attacked this young woman."

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