Dog killed baby boy to death after mother fell asleep on couch – inquest

A dog that “showed no signs of aggression” robbed a two-week-old baby after his mother fell asleep on the couch, an inquest has heard.

Two-week-old Reuben McNulty was sitting on a teddy bear ring on the couch with his mother Amy Litchfield when he was attacked by their pet Staffordshire bull terrier-like dog named Dotty

His father, Daniel McNulty, called 999 when he discovered the gory scene in their flat in Yaxley, Cambridgeshire, after they smoked outside, Peterborough was told on Tuesday.

Reuben was taken to hospital in the early morning of November 18, 2018, but died of a serious head injury on December 13, aged five weeks.

I think the best way to characterize that sequence of events is that it was an unintentional brief period of unintentional oversight that unfortunately had horrific and tragic consequences.

Coroner Simon Milburn

Cambridgeshire coroner Simon Milburn said Mr McNulty told a 999 call handler: “I think that damn dog attacked him.

“My partner was asleep.

“I just heard howling.”

In a police interview, summarized by the coroner, Mr McNulty said he “went out to smoke”.

“He says he went back upstairs to the flat and heard crying,” Milburn said.

“He said when he picked up (Reuben), he saw the injuries and saw the dog Dotty licking his lips.”

Simon Newbury, a veterinary forensics specialist, said there were 23 individual punctures on Reuben.

He said they came from “at least four to five bites or engagements” and “maybe as many as 18 to 23 if some punctures are single engagements each time”.

“I suspect Reuben was shaken between engagements,” he said.

“This attack would have lasted a minute or more.

“It’s possible that some movement stimulated Dotty to a prey drive.”

He said he believed that Dotty “viewed Reuben as a small prey or squeaky toy”.

Dotty and a second Staffordshire bull terrier dog named Fizz, both female and between the ages of seven and nine, were seized by police and later destroyed, the inquest said.

Milburn said, “It’s clear from any reading of the evidence that there were no previous problems or concerns with any of those dogs.”

He continued: ‘There is evidence that both parents suffered from fatigue, understandably as a result of caring for a newborn, and there is evidence that they had agreements about who would have turns at bedtime and at different times for Reuben would take care.

“In the early hours, the explanation given and the explanation I accept, mother was sleeping in the living room.

“She had taken some sleeping tablets.

“Reuben slept in the same room in his donut, the dogs slept in the same room or on the dog bed.

Daniel said he’d started smoking a cigarette.

“I have no reason to dispute that.

Amy recalls in her police interrogations that he told her he went out for a cigarette but unfortunately she fell asleep again and when Daniel returned a short time later he found Reuben seriously injured and one of the dogs, Dotty, covered in blood. .

“I think the best way to characterize that sequence of events is that it was an unintentional short period of unintentional oversight that unfortunately had horrific and tragic consequences.”

He included a narrative conclusion, saying, “Reuben died as a result of head injuries caused when he was attacked by a dog that was a family pet at his home address.”

Detective Sergeant Emma Compson said police will not take any further action against Mr McNulty or Ms Litchfield.

She said the couple had “split up as a result of the trauma”.

Ruth Hinchey, Reuben’s maternal grandmother, said, “I’ve never seen or known Dotty aggressively towards anyone.

Social worker Sophie Bradley said Ms Litchfield described the dogs as “her babies” and was warned “dogs can be unpredictable and get jealous”.

She said that during visits “both dogs were very friendly and showed no signs of aggression”.

She said that, as part of a Social Services child protection plan, it had been agreed that Mr McNulty and Mrs Litchfield would “keep the dogs in the kitchen behind the stair gate, which they had already put in place”.

Mr Milburn expressed his condolences to the family.

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