A JUDGE has passed the death sentence on ‘Rocco’, a Rottweiler-cross dog, after he attacked a woman and bit her on her leg three years ago.

Rocco’s owner David Parsonage, of Alvington between Chepstow and Lydney, was also banned from keeping dogs for five years at Gloucester Crown Court on Monday (February 26).

Parsonage said people on the residential park where he now lives thought Rocco was “wonderful”.

But Judge Rupert Lowe told Parsonage he was “in complete denial” about his dog. 

Parsonage was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to Rocco’s victim as well as costs of £500 and a surcharge of £95. He was also placed on a 12 month community order with a requirement to do 80 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Lowe made the order for Rocco’s destruction after hearing that the dog had bitten another woman on an earlier occasion seven years ago and had also attacked and bitten another dog in a separate incident in 2019.

He said: “I am satisfied, I am afraid, that the dog is a danger to public safety. 

“I am afraid there is no alternative but for the court to make Rocco the subject of a dog destruction order.

“There is then the question of whether I find you, Mr Parsonage, to be a fit and proper person to own a dog. I do not find that you are.

“I disqualify you from having custody of a dog for five years from today. “

Judge Lowe also imposed a five year restraining order on Parsonage. The order bans him from contacting the woman bitten by Rocco.

Parsonage was told to hand Rocco over to the police within seven days but the dog must not be destroyed immediately to give time to lodge an appeal.

If there is a legal challenge to the destruction order, Parsonage would have to pay for kenneling and care.

Prosecutor Neil Treharne had told the court at an earlier hearing the woman was walking her dog ‘Biggles’ around playing fields at about 7am on September 10 2021 when she was attacked and bitten by Rocco.

The two dogs had come together and ‘sparred’ with each other before Rocco bit the woman on the thigh, he said.

She told the court she was looking for her daughter’s lost ring on the playing fields and Biggles was off the lead when she saw a much larger dog.

“I called my own dog to me and put him on the lead,” she said.

“I shouted at this larger, much more powerful dog, to stop. I did this repeatedly to make its owner aware that I was there as the dog was showing some aggression as it approached us.

“Biggles then became involved in a scuffle with the bigger dog during which it bit me on my thigh with his big jaws and I fell to the floor but still holding onto my dog’s lead to prevent the bigger dog attacking Biggles.

“The dog didn’t release his grip on me until the owner of the bigger dog and the woman he was with approached me. Parsonage said that Rocco didn’t mean it and he apologised on behalf of his dog for his actions.”

Parsonage told the hearing that he was out walking his dog that day – as he had done regularly for much of the last eight years, and was ‘deep in conversation with a companion.’

Parsonage told the court: “Unusually, I had let my dog off his lead.”

“I spotted a woman walking her dog a short distance away, about 10 or 12 yards or so, and was aware that Rocco was trotting over to see her, wagging his tail.

“The woman’s dog was sitting on the ground like an Egyptian sphinx but leapt up when Rocco approached and the dogs began sparring with each other on their hind legs.

“I didn’t hear the woman shouting at Rocco but I did hear her screaming at Rocco as she went hysterical. 

“When I arrived at the scene I pulled at Rocco’s harness and pulled him away. The whole incident lasted for a maximum of 15 seconds.

“I believe that the woman’s screaming made the situation worse. Rocco has never been in a fight before, or since.”

Parsonage pleaded guilty to being the owner and/or person in charge of a dog that caused injury to  the woman while being dangerously out of control on the playing fields.

Mr Treharne told the court that in 2017 Rocco had bitten a woman on the leg, breaking the skin, while she was walking in the same playing fields. 

She needed treatment including stitches and antibiotics after the attack.

At that time Parsonage signed a dog behaviour order in which he undertook to keep Rocco on a lead in public places for the rest of the animal’s life.

In July 2019, however, police were called by the owner of a dog which Rocco had bitten. Parsonage offered to pay the dog’s veterinary bill and to keep Rocco muzzled in future.

Judge Lowe told Parsonage “You come across today as being in complete denial about your dog. 

“You have no proper idea of the danger it presents and you have tried to excuse its actions whenever it bites a person or another dog. 

“You are still not muzzling the dog, even now after all that biting history because you believe the dog is friendly to everyone.”

Parsonage had told the court he has been walking Rocco on a short lead in the countryside around Anvington recently without ever meeting another person.

“He will never be off his lead again,” added Parsonage. “He has met a lot of people on the residential park where I live and they all think he is wonderful.”