A SEVEN-year-old girl had nightmares and was unable to sleep in her own bed after she was savagely mauled by a dog while in a children’s park, a court heard.

The youngster had to have skin graft surgery after a Staffordshire Bull Terrier bit through all the layers of her skin on her left thigh.

Karl Biswas, of Brookside, Headington, was handed a community sentence of 12 months at Oxford Crown Court yesterday after admitting being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in Valentia Road’s recreation ground on July 22.

The schoolgirl was with her mother, two other children and their parents in the park when the dog - which was under a previous court order to have a muzzle on - lunged at her three times.

Prosecuting, Merril Hughes said Biswas, 52, came into the park with the dog on an extendable lead and sat down on a swing.

She said the girl was on the zip wire on the far side of the children’s area and walked past the dog after her mother called her over.

The dog walked towards the youngster and then ran before biting her on at the top of her left thigh and shaking her in its jaws.

Ms Hughes said the girl screamed and fell over, before Biswas was able to hold it back.

She added: “He [the defendant] said ‘I’m sorry’ and left the park through the gate.”

In a statement the mother said her daughter suffered a two-and-a-half to three inch deep bite to her leg.

Reading the statement, Ms Hughes said: “It’s certainly had an impact on that young girl. She was not been able to sleep in her own bed, for two weeks she had been sleeping with her mother. She has had nightmares and she is very nervous when she leaves the house. She still struggles to climb stairs and has become quite withdrawn.

“During the holidays when she should have been enjoying her school break, she spent a significant amount of time indoors because of her injury.”

Mr Biswas, who is of previous good character, was interviewed on August 9 and said the button must have ‘slipped off’ the dog lead.

The 52-year-old admitted to police that he knew the dog had a history of biting people, but added he was not aware of an order for the pet to be fitted with a muzzle last January.

Biswas said he was looking after the dog owned by his partner Fiona Jackson.

Defending, Suzanne King said Biswas had a range of mental health issues and ‘panicked’ by walking away from the scene.

She said Biswas admitted he was neglectful.

She added: “He accepts fully he was aware of the dog’s previous aggressive behaviour in terms of biting. He is has cooperated with the police and expressed his remorse for his actions.”

Sentencing, Justin Rouse QC described the pictures of the girl’s injuries as horrific. He added: “It’s obviously very sad for the child who was bitten by the dog, a choice of dog which seems to end up in the wrong hands all too frequently and probably for the wrong reasons.

“It’s sad for that dog – it’s been poorly trained and poorly cared for – that it had to be destroyed.”

Biswas was also ordered to complete a rehabilitation activity requirement for 20 days and disqualified from keeping or having custody of someone’s dog for five years. He was also told to pay £340 in compensation.