Mother jailed after son mauled to death by ‘extremely powerful’ dog

Frankie Macritchie, from Plymouth, suffered 54 injuries during the attack and died as a result of blood loss

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 09 June 2020 16:27 BST
Mother jailed after son mauled to death by ‘extremely powerful’ dog

A mother whose 9-year-old son was killed in a dog attack has been jailed for neglect.

Tawney Willis, 31, was sentenced to two years in prison after her son, Frankie Macritchie, died while on holiday in Cornwall last year.

Frankie had been staying in a caravan with his mother and her friend Sadie Totterdell, 29, in Tencreek Holiday Park in Looe in April.

Totterdell brought her dog Winston, a 7st American bulldog cross Staffordshire bull terrier, to the site during their stay.

On April 12, the women were joined by friends and spent the evening partying at the site’s social club and in a caravan.

Prosecuting, Simon Laws QC said some of the adults at the party had been taking cocaine and cannabis, as well as drinking.

Frankie was left alone with Winston, who had previously bitten another child, in the early hours.

Truro Crown Court heard on Tuesday that Willis, who has since been diagnosed with PTSD, went to check on her son about two-and-a-half hours later and found him fatally injured.

A post-mortem examination found Frankie, who suffered 54 injuries during the attack, died from blood loss.

Judge Simon Carr jailed Totterdell, who admitted owning a dangerously out of control dog, has been jailed for three years.

“Winston was an extremely powerful and – as you can see from what happened – potentially dangerous dog,” the judge said.

“Yet a decision was taken to leave Winston and Frankie in that caravan alone.

“I accept entirely that for the majority of his life, Winston had been a docile, happy, well-cared for dog but his size and strength must have been obvious to everybody.”

The judge told Totterdell that incidents in the past, including when Winston bit a young child who required medical treatment, should have reinforced that he could be dangerous and served as a “red flag”.

On at least one occasion, Winston had escaped from Totterdell’s garden and police had reminded her of her responsibilities as his owner, the court heard.

Judge Carr also banned Totterdell from owning or having responsibility for a dog for 10 years.

The judge accepted Willis and Totterdell, both from Plymouth, had been severely affected by what happened and showed genuine remorse.

In a statement, Frankie’s father and his family said they could never forgive Totterdell and Willis for leaving the boy alone with Winston.

“Frankie was left alone to die in the most horrific way, beyond anyone’s imagination,” they said.

They described him as a “special young boy” who was funny, caring and loved everyone.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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