A dad was savaged as he protected his son from an American Bulldog at a youth football game, a court heard. 

He was left with severe injuries to his face and neck as he defended his son who was dragged to the ground by the dog. 

On Monday (November 27, 2023) Joseph Cronin, 58, of Old Farm Avenue in Sidcup, appeared at Woolwich Crown Court where he was fined £500 for being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog. 

But the dog remains a risk to the public as it has a new owner who cannot be traced. 

Prosecutor Heena Baig told the court that the attack took place on August 26, 2021, at a grassroots football game at the Samuel Montagu Youth Centre in Kidbrooke

The victim was standing on the side of the pitch when his youngest son asked if he could stroke a nearby dog. 

As the boy reached towards the dog it grabbed his sleeve and dragged him to the ground. 

After the dad got his son to the safety of his mum’s arms the dog turned on him. 

The victim said: “I remember the fear I felt, my ex-wife running towards me and how the dog’s claws and teeth felt on my head and neck.” 

He was left with facial scars and a nurse told him he was lucky to be alive as one bite was 1cm away from piecing his jugular vein. 

Ms Baig said: “He now says he has a fear of certain breeds of dogs and suffers flashbacks and nightmares regularly.” 

Joseph Cronin was in charge of the dog at the time of the attack, but it belonged to his 25-year-old son. 

Barrister Olivia England, defending Cronin, said there were no signs of violence in the dog prior to this incident. 

“In his own words, he describes being devastated about what it. Mr Cronin deeply regrets that this happened,” Ms English said. 

She said that although he wasn’t the owner he accepted responsibility for the incident and swapped details with the victim’s family. 

He also made enquiries with the police about what was happening when he didn’t hear from them for six months, Ms English said. 

Normally in dog attack cases the dog would be destroyed, but the court heard that this may not be possible as nobody knows where it is. 

The dangerous dog was given to a new owner during the six months period between the incident and the police launching their investigation. 

Mr Cronin explained: “I didn’t want to walk the dog anymore after that incident. My son, being 25, didn’t really want to walk it either. So we moved the dog on to what I thought was a good home.” 

He added that he does not know the identity of the dog’s new owners. 

Recorder Maxwell-Scott KC, sitting as judge, said: “This is a very sad incident where your son’s dog, which was in your control, caused very serious injuries to a young man who was minding his own business at an amateur football match. 

“This is essentially a strict liability offence. If you have a dog under your control, whether you own it or not, if it injures someone you are guilty of an offence. 

“But the reality is, this was a fast-moving incident and it wouldn’t be right to say you failed to intervene.” 

Recorder Maxwell-Scott KC ordered Cronin to pay £500 in compensation and an additional £500 fine. 

He ordered that the dog should be destroyed but added: “I make it very clear that because of the circumstances, I don’t think it will ever be possible to put that into effect.” 

As Cronin left the court he said: “If I could turn back the clock I would.”