Jade killer dogs ‘were friendly’


Published: Friday 24th October 2014 by The News Editor

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A woman whose dogs savaged to death a teenager described them as “friendly, timid and loving” – while a vet described one as being among the most aggressive dogs he had ever come across.

Beverley Concannon, 45, was berated by the family of Jade Lomas-Anderson, 14, as she gave evidence at the inquest into the girls death at Bolton Coroner’s Court.

She told them: “I just want to apologise.”

But it was met with disgust by Jade’s family, the girl’s grandmother shouting: “After 19 months?

“You’ve let my family suffer for 19 months and sit there pretending to be all innocent.”

Jade, described as a polite, shy “ideal daughter”, had been friends with Concannon’s daughter, Kimberley, visiting their family home in Atherton, Greater Manchester, when she was savaged “from head to toe” by the dogs in the kitchen of the house on March 26 last year. They were later shot dead by armed police.

The dogs, two large mastiffs, called Buddy and Neo and two Staffordshire Bull terriers, Ty and Sky, were kept cooped up in Concannon’s council house, never taken for walks and “terrified” neighbours.

Buddy would “go mental” at passers-by and had gone “stir crazy” after being kept constantly in a cage in the kitchen where it was unable to comfortably lie down or turn around.

On the day of the attack Concannon left the girls at the house to go shopping. Kimberley nipped next door to warm a pie up for her friend in a neighbours microwave – leaving Jade, a stranger, alone in the lounge.

Jade may have gone to answer Kimberley’s mobile phone in the kitchen where the four dogs were kept – with Buddy breaking out of his cage, the inquest heard.

Kimberley returned to find Jade in the kitchen. She was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple dog bite injuries from “more than one dog”.

Concannon told the inquest she never saw any aggression from her animals.

But a vet of 15 years who neutered Buddy said in a statement he was “one of the most aggressive dogs I have ever dealt with”.

Concannon also told animal charity workers the dog had cost her £1,000 after killing a parrot and a cat.

She was prosecuted for animal welfare offences and given a 16-week suspended sentence but the Crown Prosecution Service ruled she could not be prosecuted under the then current law for Jade’s death as the attack took place on private property. The law has now been changed.

Jade’s family, left “disgusted” by Concannon only being prosecuted over animal welfare, were still seething as she gave evidence at the inquest hearing – two police officers sitting behind them in a tense courtroom hearing.

Concannon was warned by Coroner for Manchester West Alan Walsh, under the law she did not have to answer any questions that may incriminate her.

She described her dogs as, “loving, really friendly, timid” and added that Buddy was “giddy”.

And she denied any knowledge of them barking at passers-by when in her yard, or any previous incidents involving her dogs.

But she agreed in the three months previous to the fatal attack on March 26 last year the dogs had not been walked outside the house except for being let into her yard.

Cathy Hyde, RSPCA Chief Inspector for Manchester, told the hearing in analysing dog attacks, behaviour was more important than breed, and behaviour was determined by the owner and the environment and way the animals were kept.

The fact there were three males and one bitch, and the dogs were relatively young, inevitably meant they would have fought, she said.

And as well as a lack of exercise there were no dog toys or other means of stimulation in the house.

Miss Hyde added: “I think from the way the dogs were being kept anything could have triggered them.

“I think it would not have taken much to trigger that dog spending most of his life in that cage.”

Once Buddy escaped the cage and attacked a “pack” mentality would have taken over, the inquest heard, with the other animals joining in.

The inspector added that hospital admissions from dog attacks were going up around 6% a year – with 6,580 in 2011/12 and the RSPCA was being called to more fatal attacks such as the one involving Jade.

Mrs Hyde added: “There’s quite a clear link in these attacks between welfare and how these dogs are being looked after.”

She said the RSPCA believe dog licences should be re-introduced after their abolition in 1986 – which Jade’s family have also campaigned for.

Coroner Mr Walsh, recording a narrative verdict said although it was “to an extent speculation” he thought it likely Kimberley’s phone ringing and Jade going into the kitchen to investigate triggered the fatal attack. He added: “I believe Buddy got out of the cage and once out the dogs would have acted in a pack-like way and it is likely that’s how Jade suffered her injuries.

“The terror and fear she would have suffered for that short time would have been quite unimaginable.”

Mr Walsh under his powers as a coroner, said he would be writing to the government suggesting a review of the current dog laws.

He praised the “dignity” of Jade’s family during the hearing, adding: “You have my heartfelt sympathy. I said Jade’s death was a catastrophic tragedy of the most extreme proportions. I believe that.”

Published: Friday 24th October 2014 by The News Editor

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