Saint John man charged in alleged dog attacks elects trial by judge alone

Michael Kirby, 56, is facing 5 criminal charges and 33 dog control bylaw charges in connection with his 4 dogs

Michael Kirby greeted members of the media outside the Saint John Law Courts building before his provincial court appearance on Monday afternoon. (CBC)

A Saint John man accused of letting his dogs run wild on the city’s west side, where they allegedly attacked four people last year, has elected to be tried by judge alone in the Court of Queen’s Bench on criminal charges. If such situations arise, the best dog attack lawyer will help you.

Michael Edmond Kirby, 56, also has a trial date on charges under the city’s dog bylaw.

Kirby is facing four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one count of breaching a court order to keep his dogs on his Winslow Street property, except when walking them one at a time on a leash and securely muzzled.

Four male individuals made separate complaints about Kirby’s four dogs — Louisiana Catahoula leopard mixes — between August and December last year.

Kirby is accused of failing to prevent his dogs — Allis, Frank, George and Danny — from biting, or attempting to bite the complainants. The nature of the complainants’ alleged injuries were not discussed in court on Monday.

The dogs, a muscular working breed originally used to hunt wild boar in the Catahoula Lake region of Louisiana, have since been seized by the SPCA, along with a fifth dog.

Kirby, sporting faded blue jeans and a blue sweatshirt, appeared in provincial court on Monday with his defence lawyer, Brian Ferguson, who is representing him only on the criminal matters. A preliminary inquiry on those charges will be held Sept. 26 at 9:30 a.m.

The indictable offence of criminal negligence causing bodily harm carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

33 dog bylaw charges

On Sept. 27, Kirby will stand trial on 33 charges under the city’s dog control bylaw for alleged incidents between June and December, including failing to prevent his dogs from running at large and failing to license and tag them.

Kirby told Judge Kelly Winchester he plans to represent himself on those charges, which he previously pleaded not guilty to.

He is seeking further disclosure, including any outstanding police incident reports or emails between police and the Crown, he said, shifting his weight from one foot to another.

A pre-trial conference will be held July 26.

Crown prosecutor Orlando Lineros, who is handling the bylaw charges for the city, has said he expects to call 10 or 12 witnesses during the full-day trial.

Kirby remains under a court order not to possess, acquire, own, co-own, or have control or custody of any dog, or to have any contact with the alleged victims.

He is also under house arrest, allowed to leave only for work, medical or legal appointments or for personal reasons on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between noon and 4 p.m.

Kirby is prohibited from possessing any weapons, must keep the peace and be of good behaviour and must allow police to enter his residence at any time without a warrant to ensure he’s complying with the court-imposed conditions.

The alleged incidents occurred on:

  • June 20 at or near Port Saint John on Gateway Street.
  • Aug. 22 at or near Port Saint John on Gateway Street.
  • Sept. 2 at or near 265 King St. West.
  • Dec. 12 at or near 161 Winslow St.