The 22-year-old will be tried in February over the “really tragic” case.
The owner of a dog who mauled a one-day-old Hamilton baby to death will keep his name a secret until the end of his trial due to mental health problems.
The defendant, now 22 years old, was the owner of a dog – who has since been euthanized – that snatched a sleeping newborn baby before attacking it and attempting to bury it in an Enderley home in October last year.
The man denies a charge of owning a dog that seriously injured or killed a person.
In Hamilton District Court, Judge Jonathan Down confirmed a trial date for February today.
However, today’s hearing focused on the defendant’s name suppression and attorney Charles Bean urged Judge Down to consider his client’s fragile mental health and the impact the suppression had on him.
The Crown Prosecutor Danielle Young suggested that the repression should only last as long as it took the defendant to undergo psychiatric treatment.
However, Bean said the dates had been postponed due to Covid restrictions since the last hearing in August and that he had not yet received any help.
Judge Down sympathized with the defendant, saying the case was “terrible” and “really tragic”.
It revolved around the newborn’s mother coming home and putting baby Jaxon to bed before leaving the room.
Somehow the dog – a Rottweiler – entered the house, suspected to be through “an unsafe door”, and took the baby before attacking it and trying to bury it.
Baby Jaxon then died.
Judge Down said this case was “the kind of case” to create a “media frenzy”.
He said everyone would be held responsible for such a terrible incident, it will be very difficult indeed.
“The question is whether the defendant’s struggles reach the legal threshold of extreme hardship.”
He said this was a case where a young man was faced with what “could be described as his worst nightmare”.
“He is in a vulnerable position … under circumstances where both the media and the public will be very loud in their views about him and what should happen to him.
“I am very concerned that if his name is published before a trial is complete, the level of vitriol he may be exposed to would drive him over the edge.”
Judge Down said that if the defendant was found not guilty and his name was already published, that stigma would stay with him for many years “or the rest of his life”.
“And from my point of view that would not only be dangerous for such a young man, it would also be deeply unfair.”
Judge Down concluded that there was “no primary need for the public to know the name of” [the accused] charged with this terrible offense “.
The defendant’s name suppression will be dealt with again once a verdict is reached in the process.