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April 14, 2021

Byron court jails menacing-dog owner

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The owner of a dangerous dog that mauled and seriously injured a woman at Byron Bay’s Roadhouse café in July has been jailed for six months after appearing in Byron Bay local court on Friday.

It’s believed to be the first time in NSW that a dog owner had been sentenced to jail as a result of a dog attack.

Adam Coates was given the jail term after his conviction for failing to comply with a previous court order as the owner of a ‘menacing dog’. He had pleaded guilty.

Coates’ mastiff dog bit a 30-year-old woman on the nose at the café he is part owner of.

The woman had to undergo reconstructive surgery in Gold Coast University Hospital.

Byron Shire Council’s legal services coordinator, Ralph James, told Echonetdaily the dog had previously been declared menacing and Coates’s failure to comply with menacing-dog control requirements had ‘facilitated the attack’.

Mr James said the dog should have been muzzled and on a lead.

The animal, a pure bred Cane Corso, is known as a vicious breed, ans was put down on the same day of the attack.

The dog had been declared menacing in November 2014 as a result of an attack on another dog.

Mr James said Friday’s conviction ‘sends a strong message to dog owners that responsible pet ownership is vital’.

‘The government has made it extremely clear that dog owners have high standards of responsibility and if they fail to meet those standards, they will face stiff penalties matching with the severity of their conduct,’ he said.

‘The severe penalties drive home the message that the community will no longer accept that dog attacks are some kind of unfortunate accident.

‘The responsibility is with the dog owner or other person in control of the dog,’ Mr James said.

The dog owner is being assessed to serve his sentence by home detention.

Mr James said offenders on a home detention order are subject to extensive and rigorous conditions.

‘The worrying concern about the attack, is that it could have very easily have been avoided with responsible pet ownership,’ Mr James said

“We have a young person who received very serious injuries which are equivalent to grievous bodily harm as a result of the attack.

‘The attack and its physical consequences have caused significant psychological trauma. It was all totally avoidable.

‘We implore dog owners to think about their actions and the consequences of a pet that is not properly controlled.

‘Byron Shire is very fortunate in its great weather, outdoor lifestyle and the many options for off leash dog free areas.

‘But even at an off leash area or public spaces, we are seeing too many reports of dogs rushing at people or other pets,’ he said.

Mr James reported that dangerous/menacing dogs and dog attacks are a council compliance priority.

He urged all dog owners to ensure that dogs do not roam, are housed in a secure yard and are under the control of a responsible adult when out in public.

‘Please keep your dog under control so we avoid another tragic incident like the one in court last week. Pet owners face heavy fines and a goal sentence if they are found not complying,’ he said.

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  1. Yes, finally some sort of punishment. Will he also have to pay a substantial fine? Was he immediately taken into custody? Will he appeal? Will the Roadhouse have a fundraiser for the woman who was mauled? Probably not, terribly bad for business you know.
    Seems unbelievable that it’s just business as usual over there. I could not, in good conscience ever spend another dollar there. You can serve all the “fresh, local” food that you want but if you cannot even behave like a decent human being it’s all for nought.

  2. Is he sitting in jail now while he’s being assessed for home detention? Or is he sitting at home like nothing ever happened? Does he have to pay a substantial fine? I really can’t imagine how he can ever make amends for what he has done. What will be the outcome of the Workplace Health and Safety investigation? I really do hope that the woman who was mauled sues him for damages.

  3. At last!!!

    A magistrate taking dog crime seriously.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again.

    Ban these potentially dangerous large breeds from Australia. They were bred for a time when men were neanderthals with hairy arms living in caves and using such dogs to protect their stock and family.

    There is no place for these breeds in modern society.

    Own a cocker spaniel instead.

  4. 6 months home detention is hardly the same as jail as I imagine it but probably fair enough & cheaper for tax payers.
    What annoys me though are 2 things –
    1/ All dogs are tarred with the same brush. My Labrador could walk all over town all day and not harm so much as a cat. Yet she is presumed to be just as as guilty as a vicious breed and sentenced to a life of imprisonment in my yard. The only thing she is guilty of is stealing left over cat food! Before the 1980s dogs did walk freely around town and 99% were friendly not harmful.
    2/ If Adam had seriously injured or killed someone with negligent driving of his car he probably would have got a lighter sentence. If someone was similarly injured by his car, the cops probably woudn’t have been very interested especially if it was “only” a pedestrian or cyclist injured.

  5. Good news from our courts for a change. That’ll smarten up other owners of dangerous dogs who refuse to discipline and control them properly. May there be others follow the path to jail.

  6. Is the dog owner actually in jail now? Or sitting at home waiting to be assessed for cushy home detention? Where is the punishment?
    Six months at home playing video games and eating “fresh, local, organic” food, big whoop!
    Did he get a substantial fine? Is the Roadhouse cafe going to have a fundraising dinner for the woman who was mauled, to contribute towards her ongoing medical costs?
    It’s quite expensive for the tax payer to jail people, perhaps he could pay the equivalent of that cost to the woman whose face was mangled if he doesn’t want to experience an actual jail. What is the owner of this now dead dog afraid will happen prison? Mindless violence? Bodily injury? In any case, I do hope the woman who was mauled sues him for damages.

  7. I have always wondered what the psychology
    Is behind people who have a dog breed
    known to be potentially dangerous.
    Hunting dogs r obviously for a purpose whether
    U agree with their use or not. But to walk in a public with a dangerous animal. The person
    needs councilling and the breed removed from

    • I agree. This breed is not only dangerous, it is lethal.
      This breed has been responsible for two FATAL attacks in America.
      We don’t need this breed or these types of people in Byron Bay.
      I would not want to have a “pet” that could kill someone in eight bites.
      It’s hard to imagine the mentality of someone who would.

    • I’m a small girl, only long hair on my head & i would love one of these dogs! Dogs only behave badly when their owners encourage it
      I find groups of drunk humans very dangerous

      • Tell me Arlette, could you live with yourself if your dog ripped someones face off?
        Could you live with yourself if your dog killed a 4 year old child?
        Could you live with yourself if your dog hunted and killed a grown man?
        Your precious “pet” isn’t going to rip your face apart, is it?

        Do you go boar hunting and bear fighting regularly? Do you know what a “catch” dog is?
        I suggest you look up Cane Corso in wikipedia.
        This breed of dog is a working dog, are you going to use it for its intended purpose?

        Drunk humans are easily avoided. The cafe worker who had her face mauled was going about her business trying to earn a living in a place where her employer is supposed to take their duty of care seriously and protect their employees from foreseeable danger.


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