A PET dog which attacked a nine-year-old schoolboy in Longtown is to be destroyed.

Paul Dowell, 60, the Longtown man who was in charge of the Staffordshire bull-terrier when it bit the boy, has been banned from keeping dogs and given a four month 7am to 7pm curfew.

Glenn Anderton, prosecuting at Carlisle's Rickergate Magistrates' Court, outlined how the boy had left a relative's home in Longtown to play outside with a pal on May 7.

Dowell was outside with two dogs, walking them for his neighbour.

Neither dog was on a lead.

The Staffordshire bull terrier - called Bailey - immediately ran over to the boy and bit him.

"Upon seeing this, the defendant immediately grabbed the dog, and then took both dogs back inside," said Mr Anderton.

The child suffered a bite wound so serious that he spent four days as an in-patient at Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary.

Doctors feared he would need plastic surgery, though that proved not to be the case.

He did need surgery to close the puncture wounds.

As he recovered, the boy had to take time off school, needed to walk on crutches and he missed a school trip as a result of the leg injury.

Reading from a victim personal statement, written by the child's mother, Mr Anderton said: "He's not afraid of dogs, and he refuses at the minute to go out with his friends.

"As soon as you mention the dog incident, he goes quiet."

Mark Shepherd, for Dowell, who lives at Burn Street, Longtown, said what he most cared about was the child, who was recovering well.

Formerly Bailey's owner, the defendant gave him to a neighbour after suffering a heart attack and worried that he would not be able to exercise it properly.

"He acknowledges that the dogs should have been controlled and on a lead a the time," said the lawyer.

"They were in a communal area, but the dog had not bitten anyone or shown aggression before. They were out, and initially the children came over to the dogs."

Describing the defendant, who admitted being in charge of a dog that was dangerously out of control, as a deep thinker, Mr Shepherd added:"This had left its mark on Mr Dowell."

Mr Shepherd said the defendant tried to take his own life.

He had expressed deep remorse for what happened.

The presiding magistrate described the attack as "particularly nasty." But he conceded that Dowell had no reason to foresee the attack.

Magistrates imposed a 12 month community order, with 10 rehabilitation activity days and a six month alcohol treatment programme - though alcohol played no part in the offence.

The financial orders included a £500 contribution to the kennelling costs of £1,875; and £500 towards the prosecution costs.

Dowell was disqualified from having custody of a dog for five years.

The presiding magistrate added:"We have also agreed to a destruction order for Bailey because we are not satisfied that the dog would not constitute a threat to public safety.

'This could have been much, much worse."

The dogs owners - a couple who were in court for the hearing - have 21 days in which to lodge an appeal against that ruling.