A soldier who owned an illegal breed of dog which attacked and killed his four-year-old nephew was jailed for four months 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 Christian Foulkes, 22, admitted owning the animal, called Uno, last month.
District Judge Miriam Shelby told him: "I know you are aware of your own culpability and the events of that night will stay with you for the rest of your life.
"But it is clear that this case - the death of your nephew - was entirely the result of your actions and your negligence."
Foulkes also admitted owning and breeding a pitbull bitch, named Lita.
He was jailed for four months, concurrently, for each of the three charges.
The uncle showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down but later appeared to be crying as he was taken down to the cells.
He was supported by several relatives, including John-Paul's mother, Angela McGlynn.
A letter from Mrs McGlynn was handed to Judge Shelby before the sentencing.
The family made no comment as they left the court.
John-Paul was killed early on November 30 after waking up in the night while staying at the home of his uncle and grandmother, Helen Foulkes, 63.
The dog, a two-year-old white male pitbull, also attacked Mrs Foulkes as she tried to protect John-Paul.
Foulkes, of Ash Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool, was away at Catterick Garrison after joining the army just weeks earlier.
Joanne Parsons, prosecuting, told the court that 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."
Uno did have a kennel outside the property but it was allowed to sleep indoors on the ground floor.
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.
A vet who carried out a post mortem on the animal commented on its "immense muscle mass and definition", the court was told.
The court was told that Uno and Lita 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 a day 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 prosecution said.
Mark Ellis, defending, said Foulkes had suffered "a nightmare of epic proportions".
He added: "He desperately wishes he could turn the clock back but in reality all he can do is offer a heartfelt and sincere apology."
Mr Ellis said the family were planning to establish a "pet awareness" charity in John-Paul's memory and Foulkes hoped to play a role in the organisation.
"He wants others to learn from his mistake," Mr Ellis said.
Foulkes has a previous conviction for wounding for which he was jailed for 12 months in a Young Offenders' Institution in February 2007, the court was told.
He was also convicted of possessing an offensive weapon for which there was no separate penalty.
Ten months before John-Paul was killed, Merseyside Police had received a complaint from a 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 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.Reuse content