Dog attack girl named

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The Independent Online

A five-year-old girl mauled to death in her family home today was named by police as Ellie Lawrenson.

The child suffered fatal injuries when she was attacked by what was believed to be a pit bull terrier at her house in Eccleston, St Helens.

She died at the scene, Merseyside Police said.

The dog also attacked a woman, thought to be Ellie's grandmother. She was being treated for serious injuries in hospital.

The grandmother, named by police as Jackie Simpson, who is believed to be 46, was being assessed by doctors at Wiston Hospital.

Her injuries are "serious but not life threatening" and "she may well require surgery", according to police.

Despite her injuries, she managed to shut the dog in a run outside the house.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "The emergency services were called just before 4.30am to a report that what appears to be a pit bull terrier-type dog had attacked a five-year-old girl and a woman, believed to be the child's grandmother, at the family home in Knowles House Avenue, Eccleston, St Helen's."

Dog handlers and armed response officers went to the house where they decided to destroy the dog immediately.

Superintendent Jon Ward said: "This is such a tragic incident.

"When a child loses her life in such circumstances, it has an effect on the whole community.

"I would reassure the public that there will be a thorough investigation into circumstances surrounding this young child's death."

He continued: "Of utmost importance in such incidents is the safety of the public and of police officers.

"With that in mind, we were left with no other option but to have the animal destroyed quickly and humanely.

"Officers are with the family and our sympathies are with them at this time."

St Helens South MP Shaun Woodward said: "This is a terrible tragedy for the family and my deepest sympathies are with them. We must now await the critical police report looking into the circumstances of the attack."

Officers who rushed to the scene, which is home to Ellie's grandmother, uncle and aunt, found the child bleeding to death in the living room where she had been attacked.

Supt Ward, operational manager for the St Helens region, said: "We attended the scene, by which stage the dog had been shut away down the side entrance of the house.

"This has been a horrendous experience for those involved."

Mr Ward said Ms Simpson had been bitten on her arms and legs but would not reveal Ellie's injuries at this stage.

He said: "When officers arrived at the scene it became apparent from a very early stage that the girl had tragically died as a result of the attack.

"The ambulance service did what it could for her but unfortunately she died at the scene."

Police dog handlers who arrived minutes later, decided the dog, called Reuben, had to be shot as soon as possible.

Mr Ward said: "They made a decision as to whether it was safe to control the dog and seize and safely remove it. The assessment was that that couldn't be done safely.

"So the dog was humanely destroyed at the scene around 5.40am this morning."

Detectives understand Ellie's parents were not in the house at the time of the attack.

Ellie, apparently, asked to stay with her grandmother rather than return home with her parents to their home just outside St Helens after the family had visited for New Year's Eve.

Police believe Ellie's parents went out to celebrate New Year's Eve, leaving Ellie with her grandmother and when they returned to Knowles House Avenue, Ellie asked to stay there.

They are then thought to have left the property about 3.40am, shortly before the attack.

Ellie's parents have not yet been named but police said her mother is 24-years-old.

Mr Ward said Ellie's uncle, who is thought to own the dog, was not at home at the time of the attack.

It is not known whether her aunt or anyone else was there.