Grandmother of girl killed by dog found not guilty

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The Independent Online

The grandmother of Ellie Lawrenson was acquitted of the five-year-old girl's manslaughter yesterday. It was revealed after the verdict was delivered that she had previously been jailed for heroin possession.

Jacqueline Simpson, 45, had drunk two bottles of wine and smoked 10 cannabis joints on the day she allowed a pit bull terrier into the house, despite the fact it had previously attacked two people. Ellie was fatally savaged by the dog, suffering 72 injuries.

Yesterday, after the jury at Liverpool Crown Court acquitted the grandmother following a six-day trial, it was revealed Mrs Simpson had been jailed for 42 months in 1989 on drugs charges. She had also faced another trial after being charged with possession of heroin – found in searches after the girl's death – but the Crown Prosecution Service decided it was not in the public interest to pursue the case.

The court heard that Ellie was killed by her uncle Kiel Simpson's pit bull terrier Reuben on New Year's Eve after Mrs Simpson let it into her home in St Helens, Merseyside.

The defendant wept in the dock as the seven men and five women of the jury returned after five hours and 58 minutes and pronounced her "not guilty".