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Woman, 73, 'died after being bitten by police dog as it searched for drug suspect in her garden'

Pensioner was attacked by animal on two occasions during the incident

Tom Barnes
Monday 17 September 2018 21:12 BST
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Ms Collins was attacked by the dog at her home in Middlesbrough during July 2014
Ms Collins was attacked by the dog at her home in Middlesbrough during July 2014 (Google)

A frail pensioner screamed “why has this happened to me” as a police dog attacked her while officers searched her garden for a suspected drug dealer, an inquest heard.

Irene Collins, 73, was repeatedly bitten on the arms and legs by the animal, which mauled her on two separate occasions during the incident in the kitchen of her Middlesbrough home

A jury at the inquest at Teesside Magistrates' Court heard how her son, Eric, arrived at the property afterwards and told a police officer that the incident “would finish her off”.

Ms Collins, who had lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, died in hospital four days after the incident in July 2014.

However, a pathologist initially reported despite her illnesses, the pensioner would not have died when she did were it not for the dog attack.

The inquest heard PC Mark Baines had been called with dog Dano to help locate a suspect who ran away from police after a car containing heroin and cash worth £100,000 had been stopped.

Cleveland Police armed officer Sergeant Neil Yates had spoken to Ms Collins earlier and gained permission for police to search her garden in Penrith Road, Park End, as part of the manhunt.

However, he agreed she would not have been aware a dog would be involved.

After the dog had carried out a sweep of the garden with PC Baines following behind, it somehow found its way into the pensioner’s house and began biting her, the inquest was told.

Upon hearing over the radio about the situation inside, Sgt Yates went in to see Ms Collins lying on the floor, bleeding from the head while PC Baines tried to pull the dog off her.

He managed to get the dog away and into the hallway of the property, but as Sgt Yates attempted to treat Ms Collins, the dog burst back into the room and began to bite her leg.

Sgt Yates was asked what he thought at that moment and replied: “Frankly, 'how the hell is this back in here'?”

He said Mrs Collins was “screaming, upset, crying, saying 'why has this happened to me?'” before PC Baines was able to remove the dog from the room a second time.

Matthew Donkin, for the family, asked if Sgt Yates, who was carrying a pistol, ever considered shooting the dog.

He replied: “I considered everything but that was not an option that was anywhere near viable.

“I was confident he would get the dog off in a reasonable time.”

First aid was given, an ambulance was called and Ms Collins was taken to the James Cook University Hospital, where she remained until her death.

Retired detective inspector Anthony Rock, formerly of professional standards, spoke to her in hospital, when she told him she initially thought the dog would not harm her if she stood still.

The coroner said the inquest will consider, among other topics, how the dog got into Ms Collins' home, its training and previous behaviour.

Additional reporting by PA

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