Baby Care

Dog savaged baby boy to death after his mother fell asleep on sofa – inquest

Dog savaged baby boy to death after his mother fell asleep on sofa – inquest
Written by Publishing Team

A dog who “showed no signs of aggression” savagely carried a two-week-old baby after its mother fell asleep on the sofa, according to an investigation.

Two week old Reuben McNulty was sitting on a teddy bear on the sofa with his mother Amy Litchfield when he was attacked by their pet, a Staffordshire bull terrier type dog called Dotty

His father Daniel McNulty dialed 999 when he discovered the bloody scene in their Yaxley, Cambridgeshire apartment after smoking outside, Tuesday’s hearing in Peterborough said.

Reuben was rushed to hospital in the early hours of November 18, 2018, but died of a serious head injury on December 13, at the age of five weeks.



I think the best way to characterize this series of events is that it was a short, unintentional period of unintentional inattention which unfortunately had horrific and tragic consequences.

Coroner Simon Milburn

Cambridgeshire area coroner Simon Milburn said Mr McNulty told a 999 call manager: ‘I think the fucking dog attacked him.

“My partner was sleeping.

“I just heard him cry.”

In an interview with the police summarized by the coroner, Mr McNulty said he had “gone out to smoke”.

“He says he went back up to the apartment and heard crying,” Mr Milburn said.

“He said picking up (Reuben) he saw the wounds and saw the dog Dotty lick his lips.”

Simon Newbury, a veterinary forensics specialist, said there were 23 individual puncture marks in Reuben.

He said they came from “at least four to five bites or engagements” and “probably as many as 18-23 if single punctures are one-time engagements every time.”

“I suspect Ruben was rocked between engagements,” he said.

“This attack would have lasted a minute or more.

“It’s possible that Dotty was spurred on by some movement to become prey. “

He said he believed Dotty “viewed Reuben as a little prey or a squeaky toy.”

Dotty and a second Staffordshire bull terrier-type dog called Fizz, both female and around seven to nine years old, were seized by police and then destroyed, according to the investigation.

Mr Milburn said: “It is clear from reading the evidence that there had been no previous issues or concerns with either of these dogs.”

He continued, “There is evidence that both parents suffered from fatigue, which is understandable given the care of a newborn baby and evidence that they had agreed on who would sleep and look after. Ruben at different times.

“In the early morning, the explanation given and the explanations that I accept, my mother was sleeping in the living room.

“She had taken sleeping pills.

“Reuben slept in the same room in his donut, the dogs slept either in the same room or on the dog bed.

“Daniel said he went out to smoke a cigarette.

“I have no reason to dispute it.

“Amy remembers during his interviews with the police that he told her he was going to smoke a cigarette but unfortunately she fell asleep again and it was when Daniel came back inside shortly after that that he found Reuben seriously injured and one of the dogs, Dotty, covered in blood.

“I think the best way to characterize this series of events is that it was a short, unintentional period of unintentional inattention which unfortunately had horrific and tragic consequences.”

Recording a narrative conclusion, he said: “Reuben died of head injuries caused when he was attacked by a dog that was a pet inside his home.”

Detective Sergeant Emma Compson said police would not take any further action against Mr McNulty or Ms Litchfield.

She said the couple had “separated as a result of the trauma”.

Ruth Hinchey, Reuben’s maternal grandmother, said: “I have never seen or known Dotty aggressive towards anyone.

Social worker Sophie Bradley said Ms Litchfield described dogs as “her babies” and had been warned “dogs can be unpredictable and can get jealous”.

She said that during the visits “the two dogs were very friendly and showed no signs of aggression.”

She said that as part of a social services child protection plan it was agreed that Mr McNulty and Ms Litchfield “would keep the dogs in the kitchen behind the stair gate, which they already had in place “.

Mr. Milburn offered his condolences to the family.

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