The grandfather of a baby girl savaged to death by two rottweilers was seriously injured and his partner killed in a separate incident at their home, hours after the dog attack.
John Brightwell and his partner Debra Larn were stabbed six hours after the death of five-month-old Cadey-Lee Deacon, who was killed by guard dogs at a public house in Leicester. Police said that the two incidents were "criminally unrelated" but are investigating whether the baby's death might have precipitated the stabbings, which occurred as emotions ran high at around 2am on Sunday morning.
Last night Mr Brightwell's son Ryan - the father of Cadey-Lee and son of the stabbed man - was said to be "totally devastated" by the deaths, which occurred at locations two miles apart. "Emotions have been running so high," one local said. "It's Ryan everyone feels sorry for, he's lost two members of his family in a day."
As forensic teams combed the scene of the stabbings, at Grassington Close in Leicester's Beaumont Leys district, one resident, Xania Astill, 21, described how Ms Larn had arrived home distressed by the death of the child, late on Saturday afternoon. "She was just furious," said Ms Astill. "At one point she banged on the door and asked us to turn some music down. She was so angry." Ms Astill remarked on Ms Larn's mood to her neighbour, who informed her of the tragedy at the pub. "At one point the police turned up and left again, but a while later they came back - and that's when we found out she had been stabbed."
Police revealed yesterday that the rottweilers - well-known for patrolling the flat roofs on either side of the Rocket Inn on Leicester's New Parks estate - attacked Cadey-Lee while the child's mother, Amy Deacon, and her partner, Lee Burchell, the pub's manager, moved furniture out of the pub's living quarters to a new premises.
"It appears that a fire escape door was left mistakenly open and allowed the family's dogs, Bruno and Bess, access to the living quarters," said Chief Superintendent Steve Pitts, who is investigating the child's death.
"The dogs then made their way to the bedroom in which baby Cadey-Lee was sleeping. By the time Amy, Lee and the relatives who were helping them move realised what had happened, the dogs had attacked. The pub's licensee Lesley Glaze and her husband had left Mrs Glaze's son, Mr Burchell, and Ms Deacon in charge while they went on holiday."
In a statement issued yesterday, Ms Deacon and Mr Burchell said: "Words cannot express our devastation at what has happened. We just cannot believe that Cadey-Lee is gone. She was such a beautiful little girl. We loved her so much and we just can't accept that something like this could have happened. How do you come to terms with such a tragedy?"
Two people, a 26-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman, have been arrested in connection with the killing of Ms Larn. A known drug addict, nine years ago Ms Larn was jailed for nine months after admitting stealing £12,000 from her daughter to spend on drugs.
Ryan O'Meara, editor of the dog magazine K9, called for a change in the law. "This is not a breed issue, this is a dog-owner issue," he said. "I would like to see something like the theory test for driving. To be able to own a dog, you would have to show that you are committed and know about dogs."
A 26-year-old man will appear before Leicester magistrates' court today in relation to the stabbing incident, charged with murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
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