Cruel Corby attack saw man leave puppy for dead after deliberately running it over

The dog's owner says the horrific incident is something he will never get over

Monday, 21st June 2021, 5:07 pm
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 5:08 pm
Deon Ellis.
Deon Ellis.

A brute who stole a puppy before deliberately running it over with his van in Corby has been jailed for more than two years.

Deon Ellis savagely attacked 'XL bully' dog Hugo, who was just four-months-old, leaving it for dead in the street in June last year.

Hugo was later found with serious injuries and knife wounds, after volunteers had searched through the night for him after a social media appeal, before having life-saving surgery after a fundraising page topped £3,000.

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Hugo, pictured when recovering after his surgery

Thankfully he recovered but his owner, 34-year-old Lee O'Leary, said: "It's something I will never get over.

"Hugo is doing fine now but he is a work in progress. We'd like to thank everyone in Corby who helped find him and gave money to the JustGiving page."

On Friday (June 18) Luton Crown Court heard Ellis, of no fixed address, had been involved in a dispute with the O'Leary family and stole Hugo in 'revenge' while Lee was walking him in Dewsbury Road, Luton, at about 10pm on June 23.

Witnesses reported Ellis grabbing and lifting the dog by its collar before leaving the scene.

Hugo was then taken more than 60 miles away to Corby where a woman heard a painful yelp by a dog and saw Ellis driving towards it, before he swerved the van to make sure he hit the animal near the Pytchley Court shops at about 11.30pm.

The puppy was later found and taken to a vet with lacerations which were consistent with stab wounds. Blood splatters which were linked to the DNA of Hugo were found in the back of the van which was recovered in the town.

The court heard Ellis, who appeared over video-link from HMP Peterborough, callously refused to give Mr O'Leary details of what he had done to Hugo despite him begging.

Recorder George Keightley told him it was a "cruel, targeted and planned act".

He said: "You knew what the effect would be and the upset [it would cause] to Lee O'Leary."

Prosecuting, Gerard Renouf said the incident had greatly affected Mr O'Leary's family and left his children upset if they saw dogs on TV.

He added that Ellis' previous convictions included possession of a firearm in 2015 - an offence he was on licence for when Hugo was taken and attacked.

Ellis was convicted by a jury of theft of a dog and criminal damage to a dog.

Defending, Jon Harrison said Ellis was "distraught" that he had been convicted and maintains it was someone else who attacked Hugo.

He said: "He is an owner of dogs and somebody who he says would never hurt an animal."

The court heard Ellis has been in prison since June last year and remained in custody after his licence expired in March.

Mr Harrison said Ellis' mum had moved to Corby to allow him to start afresh and that the 32-year-old was trying to avoid Luton but was pulled back by criminal associates.

Recorder Keightley said Ellis' brutal actions were motivated by revenge.

He told him: "You attempted, in my view, to either seriously injure or kill this puppy and in effect left it for dead in the street."

Ellis was jailed for a total of two years and four months and will serve up to half before being released on licence.

Mr O'Leary said: "I think he should have got longer to be honest.

"The injuries were horrific.

"It affected us massively as a family and now we are looking forward to moving on."

A restraining order was also made banning Ellis from contacting Lee O'Leary or visiting a named area of Luton.

Detective Constable Helen Pecorini, who investigated the case, said: “This was a targeted incident where Ellis went out of his way to cause fear and distress to the owner and his dog.

“This was a despicable and heartless attack which I am sure will shock many people.

"I am glad that we have been able to catch Ellis and bring him to justice for this awful, awful attack against a defenceless animal.

“Anyone committing violence or cruelty towards dogs or any other animal will face police action and this type of violence will absolutely not be tolerated.”