Tributes to great-grandmother killed in ‘sustained attack’ as dogs escape through hole in fence

Victim of horrific attack was ‘mother, grandmother and great-grandmother’ who lived in area for decades

Ella Glover
Sunday 04 April 2021 11:09
Pensioner killed in ‘sustained’ garden attack after dogs escaped through fence

The family of 85-year-old great-grandmother Lucille Downer, who was killed in a dog attack, have paid tribute to her saying “we will miss her dearly.”

Flowers have been laid at the scene in Rowley Regis, West Midlands, where the pensioner died after a “sustained attack” in her garden on Friday.

Among them was a bouquet with a card that reads: “RIP nan – much love xxx”.

Ms Downer died at the scene when two dogs escaped from neighbouring premises through a hole in a fence, West Midland Police said. 

The pensioner, who suffered multiple injuries, has been described as “sweet” by neighbours, who were “shocked” by the attack.

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A family statement released through West Midlands Police said: “Lucille was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who spent her working years as a cook at Bromford House Care Home in West Bromwich.

“Lucille was born in Jamaica and emigrated to the UK in her early twenties. Since arriving in the UK, Rowley Regis has always been her home and her family will miss her dearly.”

Superintendent Phil Asquith said police were called to reports of a woman in distress on Friday afternoon.

When they arrived, he said, the two dogs had returned to the neighbouring property and, “despite the best efforts of medical professionals, the lady died at the scene.”

The owner of the two dogs, a 43-year-old man, who was arrested shortly after the incident, has been bailed pending further inquiries.

Shortly after the arrival of police at the scene, the dogs were tranquilised and taken to nearby kennels where they are being tested to determine their breed.

The property remains sealed off and a large police van was parked outside the house.

Superintendent Phil Asquith said: “Fortunately, these types of incidents are rare. This presented no wider threat to the public. It was a hole in adjacent premises so they weren’t running in the streets.

“It was contained and the male who owned those dogs was arrested yesterday. He has subsequently been bailed for further inquiries whilst we undertake a forensic post mortem to determine the cause of death and to determine the breed of the dogs involved.”

Flowers have been laid at the scene where Ms Downer died after being attacked by two dogs

Asked what injuries the victim had suffered in the incident, Supt Asquith said: “The dogs will have unfortunately carried out a fairly sustained attack so there were multiple injuries, mainly caused as a result of the delay in getting into the garden.

“But the specifics of the injuries I can’t go into.”

He added that DNA samples have to be taken to determine the dogs’ breed, to see if they are banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, but that he could not speculate. 

Additional reporting by Press Association