American bulldogs killed Widnes mother after row with daughter

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image copyrightFamily photograph/Facebook
image captionElayne Stanley was pronounced dead at the scene of the attack in 2019

A mother-of-three was attacked and killed by her "protective" American bulldogs following an argument with her daughter, an inquest has heard.

Elayne Stanley, 44, was mauled by the two dogs at her home in Widnes, Cheshire, on 24 September 2019.

An inquest at Parr Hall in Warrington heard the pets had previously been owned by her partner Paul Leigh.

Court orders requiring him to take steps to keep the dogs under control were made in 2016.

Miss Stanley's daughter Louise Smith told the court the dogs, DJ and Billy, had lived with her mother for about three years.

She said: "My mum was happy with it, she had them around her two children and my two."

image copyrightFamily photograph/Facebook
image captionPhotographs posted online show two dogs believed to be those involved in the attack

The inquest heard Ms Smith, who was pregnant, had been having a "heated discussion" with her mother when, as she went to leave, DJ bit her mother on the leg.

Ms Smith said she tried to put Billy into the kitchen but the dog joined in the attack so she went for help.

The inquest heard neighbours threw bricks at the dogs and eventually managed to contain them in the back garden but Miss Stanley was pronounced dead at the scene.

'Trying to protect'

DJ was put down at the scene while Billy was taken away and also later euthanised after two attempts to sedate him were unsuccessful.

Jason Lennox, lead dog legislation officer for Cheshire Police, said American bulldogs were "guarding dogs" and could pick up on body language during arguments.

He said: "DJ has interpreted this as a potential problem and has tried to stop any physical contact."

Asked by Ms Smith if the dogs may have detected she was pregnant, he said: "He may well have sensed you were pregnant and may well have been trying to protect you, or trying to protect you and the baby."

Coroner Peter Sigee said Mr Leigh had been called to give evidence but had not attended.

The inquest heard a transcript of a police interview in which he claimed he was not the owner of the dogs, although he had admitted owning them during court proceedings in 2016.

Ms Smith said she was unaware of previous incidents involving the dogs including an attack on another dog, which had to be put down, and an incident where another dog owner was injured.

She also said she did not know if her mother was aware Mr Leigh had been convicted in 2016 under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Recording a narrative conclusion, Mr Sigee said Miss Stanley died as a result of multiple dog bite injuries sustained when she was attacked by her two dogs within her home.

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