Court sees moment XL Bully called Titan ‘locked on’ to Wellingborough woman's arm causing ‘appalling’ injury

The dog had previously been seized by police but was returned to its owner
Ruben Marques, whose dog Titan attacked a woman in Wellingborough. Image: National WorldRuben Marques, whose dog Titan attacked a woman in Wellingborough. Image: National World
Ruben Marques, whose dog Titan attacked a woman in Wellingborough. Image: National World

An XL Bully escaped from a home in Wellingborough and launched a vicious attack on a female passer-by who was with her teenage daughter.

The dog locked on to the woman’s forearm and caused an horrific injury, which paramedics initially told her could lead to the loss of her arm.

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Owner Ruben Marques appeared at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (Thursday, November 23) to be sentenced for a single charge of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control.

The court heard how the dog, which was called Titan, had been inside Marques’s house in Medwin on the Queensway estate at 10.30pm on August 30 last year.

When the victim passed with her 16-year-old daughter, the dog managed to escape out of a back gate and attacked the woman.

It then locked on to her arm.

Her terrified daughter began filming on her mobile phone. That video was played in court.

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It showed the large brown and white dog standing still with its jaw locked onto the arm of the woman who was screaming for it to get off. Marques was over the top of the dog, trying to stop it, while another woman in a dressing gown was at the rear of the dog hitting it multiple times with a large stick in an attempt to get it to let go.

Following the attack, a paramedic told the woman she may lose her arm. Doctors did manage to save her arm but an image of the large, gruesome open wound was shown to the court.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said: “Since the attack my life has changed significantly.

"I haven’t regained full strength in my arm and it’s taken three months to regain motion in my arm. I’m still impacted every day.

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"It’s caused an impact to my employment. I’ve been on half pay since the attack.”

The victim said she had become uncomfortable around her own dog, leading her to consider rehoming it.

Her daughter suffered a decline in her mental health and has since been diagnosed with PTSD as a direct result of the incident.

The court was told that the dog had previously been involved in an incident with another dog in which a neighbour had received a minor bite wound. At that point the dog was just eight months old and police seized. But it was later returned to Marques who said that when it came back it had grown much bigger.

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Marques, who has four young children at home, was told by officers to muzzle the dog in public. He had been keeping it at home in a cage and tied up with cord, but police who attended the scene in August last year said that the cage was clearly not substantial enough to enclose such a powerful dog who had displayed aggressive behaviour on a previous occasion.

In mitigation, the court heard that Marques had no previous convictions and was the sole breadwinner for his family. On the night of the dog attack, his wife had been in hospital giving birth to their fourth baby.

He had tried to hold the dog off when it was attacking the victim, had taken responsibility for its actions and would never own a dog again.

But The Honorable Mr Justice Lewis Widgoer, sitting as a recorder, said that the fact the dog was kept tied up following the first incident showed that Marques was ‘concerned it might happen again’.

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He added: “This was an offence which had appalling consequences.

"You were told by police you had to keep the dog muzzled while it was out and you had a dog cage to keep him in but desperately sadly it escaped and bit the victim, clamping its jaws onto her arm.”

Marques was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay the victim £750 in compensation.

Titan was taken by police and was destroyed several weeks after the incident.

What does the law say on XL Bullies?

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Earlier this year the Government decided to ban the breed following a series of attacks on members of the public by the dogs.

It means that from the last day of 2023, it will be against the law to:

- Sell an XL Bully dog

- Abandon an XL Bully dog

- Give away an XL Bully dog

- Have an XL Bully dog in a public place without a lead and muzzle

Then at the beginning of February, all XL Bully owners must have a Certificate of Exemption in order to lawfully own the dog.

You can find out more about the law here.