Accused at Quebec pit bull trial suggests his dog might have been provoked

LONGUEUIL, Que. — A man charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm after one of his pit bull-type dogs allegedly mauled a young girl suggested to the judge Tuesday his animal might have been provoked.

In a brief statement on the last day of his trial, Karim Jean Gilles told Quebec court Judge Pierre Belisle no witness had come forward to say his dog had attacked a human prior to the young girl being disfigured in a Montreal-area park in September 2015.

The girl’s mother testified Monday the dog attacked her daughter Vanessa in the face and dragged her several metres across a park south of Montreal.

Magdalena Biron said the attack left Vanessa with fractures to the cranium and hand, as well as a cheekbone broken in seven pieces. She still has scars on her face.

“With regard to the incident,” Gilles said, without specifically describing what he was referring to, “I don’t know if the situation was due to a provocation or if it was totally accidental.”

He said he did not see what happened.

Gilles represented himself and told the court he wouldn’t call witnesses.

Crown prosecutor Claudie Gilbert finished presenting her evidence Monday.

She called 12 witnesses, including neighbours who testified that the accused’s two dogs often were out in public without a leash or a collar.

Gilbert argued Gilles knew his dogs were dangerous and didn’t do anything to prevent the attack on Sept. 20, 2015.

His property wasn’t fully fenced in and he knew his dogs often escaped from his yard, she said.

“We aren’t even asking ourselves if he took adequate measures (to guard his dogs),” Gilbert said. “He didn’t take any.”

Vanessa’s father, Bernard Biron, told reporters outside the courtroom the attack left his daughter unable to eat solid food for months.

“She had to go to school with a device connected to her veins because her brain was infected,” he said. “Because her skull was crushed in the back and the saliva of the dog infected her system.”

Biron also rejected Gilles’ insinuation his dog could have been provoked.

“My wife was there,” he said. “My kids never approached the dogs. That fact wasn’t even contested.”

He said he hopes Gilles is convicted in order to send the message that people can be found criminally negligent for the actions of their animals.

“We are hoping he’s found guilty, but the duration of the sentence, I don’t care at this point,” Biron said.

Gilles faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The judge is expected to rule Thursday.

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