Quebec dog owner found guilty of criminal negligence after mauling of 7-year-old girl

A Quebec man whose pit bull-type dog mauled a young girl in 2015, leaving her disfigured with several injuries, has been found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Karim Jean-Gilles, 34, stood trial on a charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm

Karim Jean-Gilles, 34, shown here at the time of his arrest on Sept. 20, 2015, the day Vanessa Biron was mauled by one of his dogs, was found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm for that attack. (Radio-Canada)

A Quebec man whose pit bull attacked and severely disfigured a young girl has been found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Quebec court Judge Pierre Belisle handed down the ruling against Karim Jean-Gilles today.

"We feel satisfied with this verdict....This is the verdict we were hoping to get," said Bernard Biron, father of Vanessa, who was attacked in a park in Brossard, on Montreal's South Shore, in September 2015.

The attack left Vanessa, who was seven at the time of the attack, with skull and hand fractures, as well as a cheekbone broken in seven pieces.

Biron said his daughter, now 10, still has a large, visible scar on her face and has difficulty smiling because of the nerve damage in her face.

Jean-Gilles, 34, did not have a lawyer. He represented himself in court and never took the stand. In a brief statement on the last day of his trial, the accused suggested to Belisle his animal might have been provoked.

No leashes

The attack occurred in Marquise Park, after Jean-Gilles left his two dogs in the care of his elderly mother — without leashes.

"The accused broke the law by leaving his elderly mother in charge of the dogs when she didn't have the capacity to restrain them, especially without a collar or a leash to control them," the judge wrote in his ruling.

"As a result, the prosecution has shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did not conform to his obligations required under the municipal bylaw."

At the end of the proceedings, the judge gave Jean-Gilles the opportunity to address the family. He refused.

Biron told reporters outside the courtroom that he would have liked to have heard something.

"I would have appreciated to hear some sort of empathy, some sort of sadness."
Magdalena Biron and Bernard Biron, whose daughter Vanessa was severely mauled by a pit bull-type dog, are seen here alongside Crown attorney Claudie Gilbert, right, at the courthouse in Longueuil, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Sentencing in March

The judge said Jean-Gilles showed an unsettling lack of care toward the life and the safety of others.

Jean-Gilles could face a maximum of 10 years in prison.

At Thursday's proceedings, Crown prosecutor Claudie Gilbert recommended a sentence of three years, in addition to the time he's already serving now for a separate offence.

Belisle answered he would have recommended something higher.

"I would have thought more than three years," he said in court. He said the punishment should send a message.

Jean-Gilles's sentencing is expected on March 23.

With files from CBC reporter Elias Abboud and Canadian Press