A WORKINGTON man’s Patterdale terrier bit an elderly neighbour who died weeks later after developing a blood infection linked to that bite.

Martin Hawley, 58, met 89-year-old Joseph James outside their Warwick Place terraced homes on the evening of October 21, 2022.

As Hawley opened his door and Mr James stood outside his address, Hawley’s terrier, Annie, ran from the house and latched on to the pensioner’s hand, pulling him to the floor.

After a neighbour heard a thud, Hawley called an ambulance.

Paramedics found Mr James on the floor, noting bruising and swelling to the left side of his head, a nosebleed which had stopped and partial amputation of the left little finger tip.

Mr James remained in hospital until his death, on 17th November.

Carlisle Crown Court heard a pathologist had concluded Mr James’ head injury was neither life-threatening nor life-changing.

After a week in hospital in which he turned 90, he was a little confused and had a raised white blood cell count.

Three days later he developed a fever, and two weeks after the incident he was diagnosed with the life-threatening condition sepsis.

Tests showed his blood had become infected with a bacteria found in the mouths of dogs and cats.

Prosecutor Laura Broome said it was the pathologist’s opinion “that this was passed into his bloodstream from the wound caused to his little finger when bitten by the dog”.

It had begun multiplying within the bloodstream, leading to sepsis and Mr James’ tragic death.

Such bacterial bite infections could be difficult to treat, noted the pathologist, who found a small brain bleed was a contributory factor and that her diagnosis of pneumonia in the lungs was a likely sepsis consequence.

Hawley admitted a charge of permitting a dog to cause injury while dangerously out of control, leading to Mr James’ death.

A neighbour had reported cane-using Mr James previously tormenting the dog, which had also bitten the pensioner in the past.

Judge Michael Fanning accepted this torment but told Hawley the 21st October incident could have been foreseen, adding: “These incidents should have put you on notice that you had to be careful with Annie being around Mr James.”

Defence lawyer Craig MacGregor conceded there were “no winners” in the case.

“The defendant has said the following: that what has happened to Mr James has left him devastated — not because of the predicament he finds himself in,” said Mr MacGregor.

“The defendant, who suffers from depression, has been greatly affected by this.

"He still lives at (the house).

"He still has to face this every day.”

Judge Fanning said it had been a “momentary lapse” by Hawley, adding: “You have demonstrated real remorse and regret.

"I have no doubt this will live with you forever.”

An 18-month prison sentence was suspended for a year.

Hawley must serve a six-month electronically monitored night time curfew.

The dog remains in kennels.

A decision on its future will be taken by a judge in due course after expert reports are prepared.