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Mother-of-three, 44, was mauled to death by her two American bulldogs, inquest hears

A mother-of-three died after she was attacked by two American bulldogs in her home following a ‘heated’ argument with her pregnant daughter, an inquest has heard.  

Elayne Stanley, 44, suffered multiple dog bite injuries at her home in Widnes, Cheshire, on September 24 2019.

An inquest at Parr Hall, Warrington, on Wednesday, heard the dogs may have sensed Miss Stanley’s daughter Louise Smith was pregnant and tried to protect her. 

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.

She 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.’ 

The inquest also heard the dogs had previously been owned by Miss Stanley’s partner Paul Leigh.

Court orders requiring Mr Leigh, who did not attend the hearing, to take steps to keep the animals under control were made in 2016.

The pet dogs, named DJ and Billy, lived with Miss Stanley for three years, Ms Smith told the court.

Elayne Stanley, 44, suffered multiple dog bite injuries at her home in Widnes, Cheshire, on September 24 2019, an inquest into her death heard

Elayne Stanley, 44, suffered multiple dog bite injuries at her home in Widnes, Cheshire, on September 24 2019, an inquest into her death heard

An inquest at Parr Hall, Warrington, heard the American bulldogs had previously been owned by her partner Paul Leigh, who did not attend the inquest hearing at Parr Hall, Warrington, on Wednesday

 An inquest at Parr Hall, Warrington, heard the American bulldogs had previously been owned by her partner Paul Leigh, who did not attend the inquest hearing at Parr Hall, Warrington, on Wednesday

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

She said she was unaware of incidents involving the dogs in 2016, including an attack on another dog which had to be put to sleep and an incident where another dog owner was injured.

Miss Smith said she did not know if her mother was aware Mr 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 on Graham Road after college on September 24 2019 and they had been having a ‘heated discussion’.

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

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. 

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

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

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

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 

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

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'

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’

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, while Miss Stanley’s twin daughters, then aged 12, were in a bedroom upstairs.

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

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.’

The attack took place at her terraced house in Cheshire. Pictured: The property cordoned off when police investigated

The attack took place at her terraced house in Cheshire. Pictured: The property cordoned off when police investigated

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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