A coroner yesterday said the family of a six-month-old baby girl who was killed by a banned American Pitbull in her Daventry home had “paid the ultimate price” for owning a dog classified as a dangerous breed.
Tiny Molly-Mae Wotherspoon was attacked by the family pet in her Morning Star Road home at around 10.30pm on October 3.
The provisional cause of death was given as ‘blood loss’ due to head injuries sustained in an attack by a dog.
County coroner Anne Pember said: “The family owned the dog that killed Molly-Mae, which was an American pitbull terrier.
“This breed is classified under the dangerous dogs act for a reason – it’s dangerousness.
“The family in this case have paid the ultimate price for owning such a dog, the death of their six-month-old daughter.”
Speaking during a two-minute hearing at Northampton General Hospital, Mrs Pember said the baby’s body was identified to police by her mother Claire Riley, 21.
Ms Riley and Molly-Mae had lived at the address in Morning Star Road since the spring of this year with two dogs. Molly-Mae’s father does not currently live at the property and his last known address was in Northampton.
The horrific attack took place when Molly-Mae’s maternal grandmother, 54 – who herself suffered bite injuries during the attack – was on baby sitting duties. Police and paramedics attended the incident and attempted to resuscitate Molly-Mae, but she was confirmed dead after being transferred to Northampton General Hospital.
The dog responsible for the attack was ‘humanely destroyed’ at the house by a local vet.
The Royal Veterinary College then carried out a forensic post mortem on the dog.
Northamptonshire Police held a press conference last Friday to confirm that the dog was an American Pitbull, banned in the UK since the early 1990s under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Chief Inspector Tom Thompson, district commander for Daventry: said: “This continues to be a complex and highly unusual investigation which has required significant resource within the Force and drawn on national expertise in the area of dangerous dogs.
“But at the heart of it is a baby girl whose life has tragically been taken away in the most horrific of circumstances.
“In addition to our ongoing investigation, we have been concentrating our efforts on providing support for a grieving family who have been left devastated by this.
“Daventry itself is a very small and peaceful town and the community has undoubtedly been deeply affected by what happened on Friday, October 3. Incidents such as these are, thankfully, extremely rare in this country.
“Community leaders have reflected their sense of shock while Northamptonshire Police have been getting on with the investigation in hand. The force would like publicly to thank everyone who attended in whatever capacity for the professionalism shown and the efforts made to save the baby girl’s life.
The case has also been referred to a Serious Case Review Committee in November which will then consider it for independent scrutiny by the Local Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire.
When asked how staff responding to the incident had been affected, Chief Inspector Thompson added: “There is ongoing welfare provision for the team and everyone else who attended.”
Northamptonshire Police also released a statement on behalf Ms Riley and her family, which said: “The family wish to say at this point that we are totally devastated and in complete shock the tragic loss of our little princess and ask we be left alone to grieve at this difficult time and a full statement will be given in due course.”
The coroner adjourned the inquest until February 11 next year.