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Quebec man convicted in pit-bull mauling gets four-year sentence

LONGUEUIL, Que. — A Quebec man whose pit bull-type dog mauled a young girl in 2015 was sentenced Friday to four years in jail, with the judge calling his behaviour "gross and extreme negligence."

Quebec court Judge Pierre Belisle handed down the sentence for Karim Jean Gilles a month after he convicted him of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

The attack left the seven-year-old girl with severe damage to her face and cranium.

In reading his sentence, Belisle said there were no mitigating circumstances that would have allowed for a shorter sentence.

Jean Gilles, who represented himself, asked the judge whether they were in municipal court. When Belisle answered in the negative, Jean Gilles responded that the crime for which he was charged was municipal-related.

The four-year term will begin once Jean Gilles' current sentence for assaulting a police officer expires. He is eligible for parole in July in that case.

Belisle said the dog attack was not a "one-off incident but rather part of repeated behaviour that has been going on for years."

"The table was set for a tragedy," the judge said. "The problem wasn't so much if the tragedy would occur but rather when it would happen."

The judge cited several aggravating factors, including the accused being found guilty in 23 previous offences, the injuries suffered by the girl as well as the serious and permanent after-effects.

"The absence of any awareness of the nature and seriousness of the crime shows his dangerousness and is a sign of the risk of reoffending," Belisle wrote.

The conviction carried a maximum 10-year sentence.

Crown prosecutor Claudie Gilbert, who had recommended three years, said she believes the judge wanted an "exemplary sentence."

"I believe, yes, that he wanted to...send Mr. Jean Gilles a clear message" and also to others who might be inclined to act like him, Gilbert said.

Neither of the girl's parents were in court Friday, but Magdalena Biron said during the trial the attack in a park left her daughter Vanessa with fractures to the cranium and hand, as well as a cheekbone broken in seven places. She still has scars on her face.

Her partner, Bernard Biron, said at the time Vanessa did not bear any grudges, even though the attack left her unable to eat solid food for months.

"She had to go to school with a device connected to her veins because her brain was infected,'' he said. "Because her skull was crushed in the back and the saliva of the dog infected her system.''

In a brief statement on the last day of his trial, Jean Gilles suggested to Belisle his animal might have been provoked.

The judge rejected the claim.

The dogs _ another of Jean Gilles' canines was also at the park that day _ weren't wearing collars the day of the attack and were not on a leash, Belisle said.

The accused's property was not adequately fenced in and his mother, who was looking after them, didn't have the ability to subdue the animals, the judge added.

Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press

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