A HOMELESS man who set his dog on a man who was shouting abuse at his partner has been spared jail.

Malcolm Pipkin admitted one count of unlawful wounding in relation to the incident which took place near the corner of St Aldate’s and Queen Street in the early hours of the morning.

Ben McMenemy had been hurling abuse at a group of homeless people sitting near McDonald’s in Cornmarket Street in March last year, a court heard.

Lucy Tapper, defending, said that one of the women stood up to Mr McEnemy, who then pushed her over in the street.

She told Oxford Crown Court on Friday: “Mr Pipkin’s partner was in the city centre and some friends of hers were being verbally abused, having pennies flicked at them by the claimant because they were homeless and being vilified.

Our top stories

“She took it up with the claimant and she was then pushed over in the street by him.” The court heard that Pipkin’s dog Jack then leapt to defend her until he was called off.

However, Ms Tapper said that once the 39-year-old heard what Mr McMenemy had been doing he then set Jack on him again, and then assaulted him.

The court was shown CCTV of Mr McMenemy being chased by the dog, running down from St Aldate’s towards the Westgate Shopping Centre.

She added: “It was in the face of that provocation that the incident occurred.

“It doesn’t make it right, but it’s right Your Honour knows the circumstances that caused Mr Pipkin to behave in an uncharacteristic manner.”

Judge Ian Pringle had originally deferred sentencing Pipkin, of Lucy Faithfull House, and gave him six months to prove he could control his dog.

Ms Tapper said that her client had abided by the conditions and that Pipkin was hoping to be able to move out of the Speedwell Street homeless shelter soon.

Judge Pringle told Pipkin that the incident was deeply regrettable, but he could spare him jail.

He added: “I remember seeing the CCTV and it was an unpleasant attack.

“At 3am you were out with your dogs, and your partner was abused along with friends for no reason.

“You initially called your dog off, but then subsequently, when you heard about the circumstances, commanded the dog to round up the culprits and then you attacked him.

“An attack in public in the early hours of the morning is wholly unacceptable.”

Miss Tapper said Jack had settled back into life with its owner.

Handing Pipkin a 15-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, Judge Pringle added: “You seem to have got your life more stable now and it looks like you will be able to move away from the sheltered housing.”