A BUSINESSMAN has narrowly avoided jail after his two dogs left a schoolboy emotionally and physically scarred for life in a terrifying attack.

Gary Bloomfield was told by a judge that he deserved to go to prison but locking him up would have a devastating impact on his construction firm.

Pointing to the route to the cells, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told him: "Before the case, that's the door I thought you would be going through."

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Bloomfield, 44, was given a six-month suspended jail sentence with 200 hours of unpaid community work at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

He was also ordered to pay £556 costs, a £1,000 fine and £3,500 compensation to the 15-year-old victim of the attack on September 10.

The court heard how the boy was savaged just six months after Bloomfield's two American bulldogs attacked two border terriers outside of his home.

Neighbours in Stillington, near Stockton, told how the eight-stone animals were regularly left to roam the streets and bother people and other pets.

Bloomfield moved the dogs to his compound on the nearby North Tees industrial estate and built an eight-foot fence with padlocks, the court heard.

But they escaped when a worker failed to secure their new home and attacked the teenager as he got out of a van, said prosecutor Louise Harrison.

"The first jumped up at him with its paws on his shoulders and pushed him to the floor," Miss Harrison told the court. "He describes being petrified.

"Both dogs started to attack him, biting his head. He describes the dogs being so heavy he could not move his head and feeling they would kill him.

"He said he felt lucky he had fallen on his front and not on his back which would have given the dogs access to his throat and neck."

In a statement, the GCSE student - who was taken to hospital for treatment to numerous wounds - said he missed school work because of his ordeal.

"Apart from the obvious scars, I have been mentally scarred," he said. "I am petrified of dogs now. If I see one, my heart starts racing and I get anxious.

"I don't think I'll ever get over this fear. Thankfully, I survived the attack, but it will change my life from now on. I've been left dealing with the shock."

The judge described the dogs as "potentially lethal" and said Bloomfield had done "precious little" other than build a fence to control them.

Defence barrister, Duncan McReddie, said the building firm boss was often away and left it to others to take care of the animals and their risk.

He said Bloomfield is "mortified, contrite and embarrassed" by what happened, and revealed that the dogs have since been destroyed.

Bloomfield, of St Johns Park, Stillington, admitted two charges of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in a public place.