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Father jailed over Doncaster dog attack which killed 12-day-old baby
31 March 2022, 21:13
A father whose dog killed his 12-day-old son in their home last year has been jailed for four years after the judge deemed it "a tragedy waiting to happen."
Elon Jase Ellis-Joynes was killed by a Chow Chow Alsatian-cross at his home in Doncaster last year after his father failed to train the dog properly.
Stephen Joynes repeatedly struck and kicked his dog, failed to train it with children and allowed it to scare his neighbours.
The same dog had also attacked a child, one of Elon's older siblings, a few weeks before the incident.
Joynes previously pleaded guilty to being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog causing injury resulting in death.
An identical charge against Elon's mother, Abigail Ellis, 28, was dropped in December last year. After Joynes' guilty plea there was "no longer a realistic [chance of] conviction as far as Miss Ellis is concerned."
Prosecutor Richard Thyne said Mr Joynes moved into the Ellis family home after starting a relationship and brought the dog, called Teddy, with him.
The court heard Ms Ellis had three previous children from a different partner, who died three years earlier.
Mr Joynes claimed it had been "banished to the back garden" for bad behaviour, but was found by police standing over the injured baby inside the house barking.
The child was taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary where he died later the same afternoon. The baby had between 30 and 40 puncture wounds and two lacerations to the abdomen, the court heard.
Mr Thyne said neighbours had doubled the size of their fences to prevent the dog from jumping into their gardens in the months before Elon's death.
The dog would jump over "sometimes several times a day," leaving them "uneasy and intimidated," the court heard. It was also reported that he used to "kick and shout at the dog."
The court heard a retelling of the incident where Ms Ellis had gone to the bathroom and Mr Joynes was in the garden playing with the children when the dog attacked the infant.
Mr Thyne told the court: "The defendant and Ms Ellis in interview said he had been left safely in his pram, but the prosecution case is that he must in fact have been placed on the sofa."
It was then one of the children noticed the dog was missing, and found the dog inside the house. Ms Ellis then made a "distressed" 999 call, the court heard.
Sentencing Joynes, judge Jeremy Richardson QC said Elon's death was "a tragedy waiting to happen".
"What punishment could anyone give to this man that is greater than the punishment he has already been given, and will have for the rest of his life?
"You knew the dog was unmanageable and had vicious characteristics," he said. "You had made no attempt to socialise the dog with children - all you did was kick and hit the dog and put it outside."
He added: "You were an utterly inadequate dog owner and failed to protect your infant son."
Mr Joynes has also been banned from keeping a dog for the next 15 years.
Detective Chief Inspector for South Yorkshire Police Lee Townley said: "This was an utterly tragic incident that left a family and the wider community completely devastated. Any death is a tragedy but the loss of a young baby in such awful circumstances makes this even more upsetting.
"My thoughts and heartfelt condolences remain with the family today."