Mauled boy's uncle admits danger dog charges

Click to follow
The Independent Online


The uncle of a four-year-old boy who died after being mauled by a dog admitted the possession and breeding of a dangerous dog today.



John-Paul Massey suffered multiple injuries when he was savaged by the family pet at his grandmother's home in Liverpool last November.

The boy's uncle, 21-year-old Christian Foulkes, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates' Court to two counts of possession of a dangerous dog and one count of breeding a dangerous dog.



Foulkes, of Ash Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool, will be sentenced next month.



A further count of giving a dangerous dog as a gift was withdrawn by the prosecution.





On the night John-Paul was killed, November 29, the youngster was staying at the home of his uncle and grandmother, Helen Foulkes, 63.

The dog, a two-year-old white male pitbull called Uno, also attacked Mrs Foulkes as she tried to protect John-Paul.



Joanne Parsons, prosecuting, said the little boy had woken up at around midnight and said he was hungry so his grandmother went to get him a packet of crisps.



Ms Parsons told the court: "By the time she returned John-Paul was already back asleep so she opened the crisps to give them to the dog.



"As she did, Uno pounced at John-Paul. She tried to force the dog off her grandson and was attacked herself as a result."



Ms Parsons described Uno as a "powerful dog" and said police had to distract the animal before ambulance staff were able to enter the house and treat John-Paul and his grandmother.



It was later decided by police to destroy Uno and it took two bullets to kill the dog, Ms Parsons said.







Foulkes, who had joined the Army just weeks earlier, also admitted owning a pitbull bitch, named Lita, which was being looked after by John-Paul's father.

Ms Parsons said the animals were split up because the family felt Mrs Foulkes was unable to look after both of them while her son was away with the Army.



Lita died when she was knocked down by a car shortly after John- Paul was killed.



A post-mortem found that, at the time of her death, she was pregnant with 11 pups sired by Uno.



Ms Parsons said it was not Lita's first litter of puppies but added: "Mr Foulkes maintains the dogs were kept as family pets and not bred for fighting or commercial gain.



"There is no evidence on either dog of their use for fighting."



A third dog, named Lucky, had also been kept by Foulkes but was killed by the other two, the prosecutor said.





Ms Parsons said Foulkes was "utterly devastated" by the death of his nephew.

He was supported in court by John-Paul's mother, Angela McGlynn.



Foulkes was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but the charge was dropped following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).



Mark Ellis, defending, said Foulkes wanted to thank the police and the CPS for their "sensitive" handling of the case.



Mr Ellis said: "Mr Foulkes is a distraught man and the Crown has been most fair."



Foulkes was granted unconditional bail until sentencing on June 1.



District Judge Richard Clancy warned him that his convictions were "extremely serious" and he faces jail.







Ten months before John-Paul was killed, Merseyside Police had received a complaint from a local housing officer about dog breeding at the Foulkes' home.

But the force's call centre operator wrongly told the caller it was "not a police matter" and the complaint was never followed up.



The matter remains under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.



Merseyside Police have destroyed hundreds of illegal breed dogs since the death of five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson on New Year's Day 2007.



Ellie, from St Helens, Merseyside, was also being minded by her grandmother, Jackie Simpson, when she suffered dozens of bites from her uncle Kiel's pitbull, Reuben.



Mrs Simpson was later cleared of manslaughter by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court.



Kiel Simpson pleaded guilty to owning a dog banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act and was jailed for eight weeks by Liverpool Magistrates in May 2007.