A pet dog saved a woman from a “vicious and unprovoked” attack by a serial domestic abuser – by biting her attacker so hard he spent two days in hospital.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier leapt into action to protect the woman when Liam Gove, 24, punched her twice in the face.
The animal, which belonged to his girlfriend’s daughter, bit Gove so hard he spent two days in hospital – but it brought the unprovoked attack to an abrupt end.
Gove flew into a rage when his partner overheard him booking a taxi and asked him where he was going.
He first lashed out at the pet Staffordshire Bull Terrier, hitting the animal repeatedly before turning his anger on his girlfriend.
He punched the woman twice to the face, knocking out her two front teeth and leaving her nose bleeding, before the dog came to her aid.
Fiscal depute Christy Ward told Aberdeen Sheriff Court the couple had been together for four-and-a-half years.
She said: “On March 28, during the evening and into the early hours of March 29, the complainer and the accused drank alcohol together.
“At approximately 2.20am, the complainer and the accused decided to go to bed.
“The complainer went to their bedroom and she heard the accused in the bathroom calling a taxi and arranging to go elsewhere.
“She went through to the bathroom and challenged the accused about where he was going.
“He refused to tell her where he intended to go, which resulted in an argument.
“The complainer attempted to leave the bathroom which infuriated the accused and he tried to prevent her from doing so by placing his foot against the door, trapping her between the door and the doorframe.
“Their dog then came into the bathroom which further infuriated the accused.
“He tried to get the dog out but it would not go, so he began repeatedly striking the dog on the body causing it to yelp each time.”
Gove’s partner then managed to leave and went through to the bedroom.
Ms Ward said: “The accused followed her into the bedroom, seized her by the shoulder, turned her around and punched her twice in the face with such force that he knocked her two front teeth out and caused her nose to bleed.
“The dog began to bite the accused, bringing an end to the incident.”
Gove, of Cummings Park Crescent, Aberdeen, where the offence happened, pled guilty to a domestically aggravated charge of assault to severe injury, and to causing a dog unnecessary suffering by repeatedly striking the animal on the body.
It’s quite clear, even at the relatively young age of 24, you have become a serial domestic abuser.
Defence agent Gail Goodfellow said: “Notwithstanding his behaviour on this occasion, he and his partner still live together.
“Mr Gove and his partner have now been together for five years and they are expecting their first child in March.
“He does have a history of depression for which he is currently medicated and has been for many years.
“It does seem likely his poor mental health, together with inappropriate use of alcohol, contributed to his behaviour on this occasion.”
Mrs Goodfellow said the offences were “out of character” and were committed when he was “heavily under the influence of alcohol to the extent he has no recollection of the incident at all”.
The solicitor added: “He and his partner were under a considerable amount of stress.
“They had been trying to conceive for many years without success. He felt this was his fault given that his partner already had children.
“That day he was feeling particularly low in mood. When he come home from work he started to drink and the complainer joined him.
“The evidence suggests the dog was understandably upset at his behaviour towards the complainer. As a consequence, he was bitten by the dog.
“He was immediately taken to ARI where, for his troubles, he remained for two days having the bite wounds cleaned and stitched.
“When he learned of his partner’s injuries he was absolutely appalled by his behaviour.
“He has restricted his alcohol intake.”
Mrs Goodfellow said since the incident there had been “concerns regarding the dog’s behaviour” and they were seeking to rehome it.
Sheriff William Summers told Gove: “Your behaviour on March 29 was despicable and this offending is simply deplorable.
“You started by beating a defenceless animal and went on to carry out a vicious and unprovoked attack on your partner.
“It’s quite clear, even at the relatively young age of 24, you have become a serial domestic abuser.
“This represents a troubling escalation in the abuse.
“Given the gravity of this offence, it is difficult to see why a custodial sentence should not be imposed, but there are some mitigating factors.”
The sheriff mentioned Gove never having been in custody before, and his partner relying on him.
He added: “Most importantly, and for reasons I can barely fathom, your partner still wants to continue a relationship with you.
“She clearly needs your support.”
He handed Gove two years supervision, ordered him to complete the Caledonian programme, and gave him 300 hours of unpaid work.
He also banned him from owning or keeping dogs for five years.