A woman has been jailed after her neighbour was left with a tooth embedded in her head following a horrifying dog attack.
Dana Mullen, 42, was in charge of her daughter’s American Bulldog Boston when the animal ran at and attacked her neighbour, Lynsey Casson, as she tried to bring her own dog into the communal garden of properties on Shapinsay Road in Aberdeen.
The animal initially latched onto the tail of the Lynsey’s dog, but when she intervened it turned on her, biting her ponytail and dragging her to the ground where it bit her on the head, arm and both feet, leaving her screaming for help.
Mullen was jailed for a total of 24 months, nine of which was for the dog attack and 15 for an assault and robbery offence.
Lynsey, who feared for her life during the incident, needed surgery on her arm and ankle and remained in hospital for three days.
And she later discovered a tooth embedded in her head.
Lynsey today hit out at the length of the sentence saying she was “disgusted” by it.
Now Mullen has appeared back in court, via a video link from custody, to be sentenced following a Covid-linked delay.
Mullen, a prisoner of HMP Grampian, previously pled guilty to being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control and repeatedly bit the woman to her head and body to her injury and permanent disfigurement on June 25.
She also admitted two charges over a separate incident of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by following one woman, and also assaulting and robbing a second woman on August 6.
Speaking after the hearing Lynsey said: “I’m glad she’s doing jail time but it doesn’t seem fair to me that I’m left permanently disabled, and all she gets is nine months for the attack.
“I have to be heavily medicated, I’m undergoing counselling for PTSD, and my life has been irreparably changed.
There needs to be more rules when it comes to owning a dog because pretty much anyone can just get one.”
– Lynsey Casson
“I’m not surprised at the length of the sentence, but I’m pretty disgusted. Had I been a child, I would’ve been dead.
“I don’t feel safer knowing that she’s locked up. I’m a veterinary receptionist so I see careless dog owners every day and some of them are an accident waiting to happen.
“There needs to be more rules when it comes to owning a dog because pretty much anyone can just get one.”
Defence agent Alex Burn told the court Mullen had let the dog out into the garden “to do its business” but had returned inside to get her lighter when the attack happened.
He said: “Once she became aware of it she immediately went outside to try and pull the dog back.
“In relation to the other charges, she has little recollection of these.
“At that time in her life, she was in a downward spiral involving heavy drug misuse. As a consequence of that, she became involved in these offences.”
‘Little short of catastrophic’
Sheriff William Summers told Mullen: “Anyone who owns or looks after a dog, particularly one as large and powerful as an American Bulldog, has a responsibility to properly look after it.
“On June 25 last year you were looking after an American Bulldog owned by someone else.
“I’m told you’d previously been bitten by the dog so you were aware of its temperament.
“It attacked one of your neighbours, causing horrific injuries.
“You were either unable or unwilling to bring the dog quickly under control.
“The attack was so severe your neighbour feared for her life.
“The result of your failure to look after the dog was little short of catastrophic.”
Sheriff Summers jailed Mullen for a total of 24 months.
The court previously heard the dog had already been put down, but it since emerged this was incorrect, so the sheriff also made an order for the animal to be destroyed.
Speaking of the traumatic attack, Lynsey said: “He tried to attack my dog and in stepping into his path, he attacked me.
“He grabbed me by the hair and dragged me to the ground, then bit through my right foot. He then bit through my left ankle and dragged me across the concrete.
“Finally he ran round and clamped down on my upper right arm. At no point did the owner try to restrain him and I thought he was going to kill me. Eventually, he let go and I was able to escape into my hallway and scream for help.”
Lynsey said: “I thought I was going to die so my main thought was to get my body over my dog and to save it.”
“I locked eyes with the dog while it had hold of my upper arm and I honestly thought I was going to die.
“The owner didn’t even do anything she just stood there because she was scared of getting bitten.
“I remember saying to her ‘make it stop, make it stop. It was horrific.”
Lynsey had also paid tribute to her neighbours who came to her aid in the aftermath of the attack in the summer.
She spent three days in hospital after the attack and said: “It wasn’t until days after I had been discharged that I found part of the dog’s tooth embedded in my head.
She added: “I have been the victim of an attack, through no fault of my own and am left permanently scarred both physically and mentally.”
‘Oh my god, get off her’
Fiscal depute Christy Ward previously told Aberdeen Sheriff Court: “At 1.15pm on June 25 the complainer intended to take her dog outside into the communal garden before she was due to leave for work.
“As she left her flat and looked out of the back door, she could see that Boston was unattended in the garden and was not on a lead.
“On seeing the complainer, Boston immediately began running towards her and her dog and latched on her dog’s tail.
“Upon being told ‘no’ numerous times by the complainer, Boston let go of her dog, grabbed her by her ponytail with his mouth and pulled her to the ground.
“He then shook her by her ponytail from side to side, at which point the accused entered the garden.
“The complainer recalls the accused stating ‘oh my god, get off her’.
“This did nothing to deter Boston who then bit the complainer’s right foot and moved ‘his jaw round in a tearing motion’. The complainer realised she was bleeding as Boston moved himself round, bit her left ankle and appeared to be trying to pull her into the landing.
“Boston then lost his grip on her ankle but snapped at her, tearing part of her heel.
“Thereafter he grabbed her upper right arm with his mouth with the woman later stating to police that the whole upper part of her arm was in his mouth as she looked him dead in the eye.
“She did not think he was going to let go and thought she was going to die.
“Boston did not stop his attack until the accused’s daughter entered the landing.
“The complainer crawled to her front door and screamed for help until various neighbours came to her assistance and an ambulance was called.
“She was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for her injuries to be assessed. She was found to have multiple puncture wounds to the bottom of both of her feet and grazes over the upper part of both feet.
“She had multiple wounds to her upper arm including two wounds approximately 3cm long with some skin loss. She also had a small wound of 1cm on the back of her head.
“She required surgery on her arm and right ankle and remained in hospital for three days.
“She later found a tooth embedded in her head.”
In relation to the other matter, Ms Ward had told the court the victim in that incident had been walked along Hilton Drive in Aberdeen at 8.25am on August 6 when she “became aware of the accused walking behind her”.
She said: “The woman felt like she was being watched so crossed to the other side of the road, She looked over her shoulder and saw that the accused had also crossed the road and was again walking behind her.”
The woman “quickened her pace” as she walked onto Ash-Hill Place and Mullen “appeared to hide behind a car” at one point. When the woman turned on to Ash-Hill Drive Mullen was lost to view.
At 8.40am on the same day a second woman was to work along Ashgrove Road when she “became aware of the accused behind her, standing near to the traffic lights, putting on a white mask”.
Ms Ward said: “As the woman approached Roxburghe House the accused approached her from behind, put her arm around her neck and said ‘I’ve got a knife’.
“The accused grabbed the handbag she was carrying and tried to pull it off her arm while repeatedly saying ‘give me your bag, I’ve got a knife’.
“The woman tried to keep hold of her bag, refusing to let it go. The accused then produced a pair of nail scissors, said ‘I’ve got a knife, I’ll stab you’ and pressing the scissors against the bag.
“Due to this the woman let go of her bag and the accused ran away.
“The total value of the bag and its contents is approximately £200.”