UK & World News

  • 4 June 2014, 2:59

Pensioner 'Eaten Alive' By Dog: Women Jailed

Two women have been jailed for 12 months each after 79-year-old Clifford Clarke was "literally eaten alive" by their dog.

Hayley Sulley, 30, and Della Woods, 29, wept in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court as they were handed the sentence.

Judge Mark Brown told the women that Mr Clarke's death had been "entirely avoidable".

"Mr Clarke was literally eaten alive when large amounts of tissue were ingested by the dog and that is a very shocking, appalling and tragic event," the judge said.

"It is very fortunate that nobody else was seriously hurt because the dog was completely out of control and extremely dangerous."

The two women, who are both mothers, pleaded guilty last month to an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act of allowing a dog to enter a place where it was not allowed to be and where it attacked a person.

The court heard that the presa canario cross-breed had not been fed for at least 45 hours before the attack.

The dog, called Charlie, escaped with another of the pair's dogs from their garden in Richard Kelly Close in the Norris Green area of Liverpool in May 2013.

Prosecutor Eric Lamb said a witness described seeing both dogs run up to a house backing on to Mr Clarke's property.

Mr Lamb said: "The dogs were jumping up at the window. Charlie was foaming at the mouth.

"Both of the dogs appeared very hungry."

He said they were seen eating bird food and dirty water from a bowl containing cigarette butts.

A short time later the dogs broke into the garden of the retired hospital porter.

He had opened his back door while cooking a meal.

The court heard how the dog sank its teeth into Mr Clarke's arm and dragged the OAP around the garden as helpless neighbours looked on.

One of his arms was effectively chewed off, while the other was severely wounded, the court heard.

Mr Clarke died of multiple injuries and blood loss.

An armed unit was called to the scene to euthanise the dog after it attacked police officers who were alerted by neighbours.

It was said to have jumped up at the 6ft wooden fence and bitten the end of an officer's rifle.

The dog had to be shot twice before it was killed.

Judge Brown said that many witnesses to the tragedy had suffered psychological trauma.

He also noted that the defendants' garden was in an unkempt state with bottles of alcohol strewn across it.

Both Sulley and Woods wrote a letter to the judge in which they expressed their shame, sadness and "genuine remorse".

The pair were banned from keeping dogs for life, and the women's other dogs have been rehomed.

The judge said the defendants were lucky to have avoided a manslaughter charge.

Since the attack new legislation has been introduced which increases the maximum sentence for fatal dog attacks from two years to 14 years in prison.

The judge said the change did not apply in this case as it could not be used retrospectively.

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