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Lawyers may save dog from death row- but should they?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 11/02/15

Everyone is familiar with stories of lawyers whose skill at exploiting legal loopholes can help drivers escape motoring fines and similar minor offences. However, lawyers in Scotland have now helped out a badly-behaved canine by flagging up the flaws in a Police Scotland application to have it destroyed, the Dundee Courier reports.

The Staffordshire bull terrier, called Kaii, had been set to be put down after attacking a woman in a flat and biting off part of her ear. However, the animal had to be kept in kennels while police worked out who actually owned it.

Chief constable Stephen House eventually made an application to the sheriff court after identifying local man Derek Duncan as the owner. However, lawyers managed to find rather a lot of holes in the application, not least because solicitors had successfully appealed against a previous conviction against Mr Duncan under the Dangerous Dogs Act, quashing an 18-month jail sentence and ten-year ban on keeping dogs that were imposed after the attack in 2013.

Mr Duncan said the actual owner of Kaii is his sister and due to the police blunder and the overturning of the conviction, it is possible the animal may be reprieved and returned to her.

Of course, all this does leave the fact that, even if the interpretation of the law had led to Mr Duncan being wrongly convicted, the fact remains Kaii did carry out the attack.

It may have been one thing for solicitor advocate Chris Fyffe to show three appeal court judges why the original trial was flawed due to sheriff Elizabeth Munro providing misleading guidance on the legislation, but some might suggest taking a point of law so far as to save a canine version of Luis Suarez is a step too far.

The legal talking has not, however, ended there. Police Scotland's lawyer has asked for a delay while talks continue between all the parties to work out a solution. It may be that the dog has still had his day after all.