Mum killed by her bulldogs ‘may not have known’ they attacked under past owner

A mum-of-three who was mauled to death by her two American bulldogs ”may not have known” that the animals’ previous owner had been prosecuted after they had injured another dog owner and attacked another dog which had to be put down .

The horror attack in which Elayne Stanley suffered devastating wounds to her upper arms, back, scalp and her neck, followed an argument with her daughter, an inquest was told.

One of the bite wounds had "completely transected" the 44-year-old mum’s jugular vein, causing severe bleeding.

Despite neighbours' frantic attempts to distract the dogs with poles and by throwing bricks at them, Miss Stanley was tragically pronounced dead at the scene.

The inquest heard Ms Stanley’s 12-year-old twin daughters had been upstairs at the time and did not witness the attack at her home in Widnes, Cheshire, on September 24 2019.

An inquest at Parr Hall, Warrington, yesterday, April 7, heard the dogs had previously been owned by her partner Paul Leigh, who did not attend the hearing.

Court orders requiring him to take steps to keep them 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."

But Miss Smith said she was unaware of incidents in 2016, including an attack on another dog which had to be put down and an incident where another dog owner was injured.

She said she did not know if her mum was aware Leigh had been convicted in 2016 under the Dangerous Dogs Act for being the owner in charge of dogs which were out of control.

She said she had gone to her mother's home after college on the day of the attack and they had been having a "heated discussion".

She told the inquest as she went to leave, DJ, a male American bulldog crossed with the muscular French dogue de Bordeaux, bit her mother on the bottom of her leg.

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

She said: "They were really big dogs, there was no way I was getting two dogs off her."

The court heard neighbours threw bricks into the house at the dogs and eventually managed to contain them in the back garden of the property.

Paramedics attended to Miss Stanley but she was pronounced dead at the scene, the inquest heard.

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Jason Lennox, lead dog legislation officer for Cheshire Police, told the inquest 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 Miss 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."

DJ was put down at the scene after two attempts to sedate him were unsuccessful while Billy, a female dog, was taken away from the house and later euthanised, Mr Lennox said.

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.

He told police: "Not once have them dogs ever been owned by me, except when I went into that courtroom."

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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