Dad jailed after his Chow-Chow cross mauled 12-day-old son to death

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Jamie  Micklethwaite

By Jamie Micklethwaite

Published: 31/03/2022

- 13:56

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:57

Elon Ellis-Joynes was 12 days old when he was attacked at home in Doncaster

A father whose newborn son was killed by his “ferocious” dog has been jailed for four years.

Elon Ellis-Joynes was 12 days old when he was attacked by a Chow-Chow-Alsatian cross at his home in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, on September 13 2020.

A court heard that in the months before the baby’s death, the dog had bitten one of Elon’s older siblings and regularly escaped to get into neighbours’ gardens.

The family pet had been “banished to the back garden” at the time of Elon’s death, but one of the children noticed he was missing that afternoon and went into the house to find him standing over the injured baby and growling.

In December last year, Elon’s father Steven Joynes, 36, pleaded guilty at Sheffield Crown Court to a charge of being the owner of a dog which caused death when dangerously out of control.

On Thursday he was sentenced to four years in prison at the same court.

Sheffield Crown Court in Sheffield where Pawel Relowicz has been found guilty of raping and murdering Hull University student Libby Squire. Picture date: Thursday February 11, 2021.
Peter Byrne

Elon’s mother Abigail Ellis, 28, was initially charged with the same offence, but prosecutors asked for a not guilty verdict to be entered in her case.

The court heard that Ms Ellis had three other children with a previous partner who died three years ago.

Richard Thyne, prosecuting, said she had started a relationship with Joynes, who moved into her home on Welfare Road, Woodlands, Doncaster, and brought with him a Chow Chow-Alsatian cross called Teddy.

He told the court Joynes had bought the dog in 2019 as a gift for his ex-partner’s daughter, but he accepted ownership of Teddy when “it became apparent they couldn’t cope” with him.

Mr Thyne said the couple’s neighbours raised their garden fences in the months before Elon’s death, with the next door neighbour describing how Teddy would jump over the fence into his garden “sometimes several times a day,” leaving them “uneasy and intimidated”.

Another neighbour said they had seen Joynes “kick and shout at the dog for getting out” on a number of occasions, the court heard.

Mr Thyne said that in April 2020, five months before the fatal incident, Ms Ellis went to a GP with her son, who had a bite wound on his right thigh.

The doctor was told that the boy had been bitten by a stray dog, but he revealed in a police interview after Elon’s death that in fact it had been Teddy that bit him, the court heard.

Mr Thyne said: “He said his mum and stepdad were present when this happened, and Joynes had smacked Teddy as a result.

Andrew Milligan

“The prosecution say this is significant for two reasons. Firstly, Teddy had previously bitten one of the other children and, secondly, Steven Joynes was aware of that fact.”

Mr Thyne said when the family returned home on the afternoon of Elon’s death, the newborn was pushed into the living room in his pram.

He told the court Ms Ellis went upstairs to use the toilet “urgently” while Joynes played in the garden with the children.

Mr Thyne said that one of Ms Ellis’s sons noticed the dog was missing and went into the house to investigate.

The court heard the boy found Teddy standing growling over baby Elon, who was lying on the floor.

A post-mortem report found Elon died as a result of severe trauma to his chest and abdomen with injuries “typical of having been repeatedly bitten by a dog”. The court heard Ms Ellis made a “distressed” 999 call and paramedics attended the house, finding Elon pale in colour and with puncture wounds to his torso.

He was taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary but died that afternoon.

Mr Thyne told the court: “The defendant and Ms Ellis in interview said he had been left safely in his pram, but the prosecution case is that he must in fact have been placed on the sofa.”

He said the pathologist “would have expected to see head and neck injuries” if the baby had been in his pram, and scientific evidence showed there was blood staining on the floor and sofa, but not in the pram.

The court heard a dog behaviour expert’s conclusion was that the dog caused Elon’s injuries “while investigating what was, to the dog, a strange object”.

Ms Ellis had said in a police interview that Teddy “became excited when he first saw the baby”, Mr Thyne said.

Edward Moss, mitigating, said Joynes had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following his son’s death and was having counselling.

He said: “What punishment could anyone give to this man that is greater than the punishment he has already been given, and will have for the rest of his life?”

The court heard the dog had been put down following the incident.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said Elon’s death was “a tragedy waiting to happen” and that Joynes “should never have kept this dog”.

He told the defendant: “You knew the dog was unmanageable and had vicious characteristics.

“You had made no attempt to socialise the dog with children. All you did was kick and hit the dog, and put it outside.

“You took no effective steps to protect any of the children, least of all your 12-day-old infant son.”

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