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Pair Sentenced for Death of Child after Dog Attack

Last week the mother and grandmother of a six month old girl who was mauled to death by their family dog were jailed.


Molly Mae Wotherspoon was in the care of her Grandmother, Susan Aucott, 56, when the attack took place on 3 October 2014. Molly Mae’s mother, Claire Riley, 23, was on a night out with friends at the time of the incident.

The dog, an American Pitbull named Bruiser, escaped from a page in the kitchen and opened the door to the living room. Molly Mae was lying on a changing matt when the dog picked up the child by her head during the “sustained attack”. Northampton Crown Court heard how she suffered a fractured skull and bites to all four limbs, later dying of blood loss.

James House, prosecuting, said:

“He was an aggressive and dangerous dog and should not have been left in the house with a person who could not control him.

“The attack was sustained. Susan Aucott simply was unable to bring Bruiser under control or remove Molly Mae from the situation.”

House added that one vet who had treated Bruiser previously described him as “one of the most aggressive dogs she had ever seen”.


Aucott, of Northampton, was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog. Riley, also of Northampton, admitted owning a dangerously out of control dog, was sentenced to two years in prison.

Mrs Justice Carr QC said:

“This was a tragic and totally avoidable incident.”

James Allen, head of the complex casework unit for the Crown Prosecution Service East Midlands, said after sentencing:

“Molly Mae’s death was a tragedy for all concerned.

“Sadly, the simple truth is that her death in October 2014 was entirely avoidable. Molly Mae’s death would not have happened if two of the people closest to her had acted, as any reasonable person would have done, and never allowed such an aggressive and dangerous dog to be in the same small house as a young and vulnerable child.”

Types of dangerous dog

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 introduced ‘breed specific legislation’ that bans the ownership, breeding, selling, or giving away of four types of dog:

• Fila Brasileiro
• Pit Bull Terrier
• Japanese Tosa
• Dogo Argentino

Breaching the legislation may result in a fine of up to £5,000 and a potential prison sentence of up to six months.

Dangerous dogs – police action

There are several circumstances under which the police may take action against a suspected dangerous dog:

• A report of a dog being encouraged to fight other dogs
• A report of a banned breed that has not been granted exemption
• A report of breeding, selling, abandoning, or giving away a banned breed
• A report that a dog has been dangerously out of control (i.e. causing or threatening injury)

There are an estimated 10 million pet dogs in the UK. If you think that you may be in possession of a banned breed, you may qualify for an “exemption” if the police deem that your animal does not pose a threat. Qualifying for an exemption involves a court procedure that may impose conditions such as muzzling in public.

Dog attacks – expert advice

If you have been attacked by a dog, even where the dog did not cause physical harm, you may be entitled to compensation. Whatever your experience involving a dangerous dog attack, speak to our expert team of personal injury solicitors today to discover how we could help you. For further information, call 0800 888 6 888 or email .

Source: Guardian

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