Lancashire

Ava-Jayne Corless: Chloe King speaks of dog death 'nightmare'

Ava-Jayne Corless Image copyright lancashire police
Image caption The baby's mother Chloe King told police that she "did not want to live either if Ava did not make it"

An inquest has heard of a mother's "nightmare" in finding her baby's body after she was attacked by a dog.

Ava-Jayne Corless was attacked while sleeping at her mother Chloe King's then boyfriend Lee Wright's house in Blackburn in February.

Ms King said the pair were asleep on a sofa and thought the pit bull terrier-type dog was in the kitchen, blocked in by a golf bag stand and a speaker.

She said she had "wanted to die" when she found the 11-month-old's body.

Home Office pathologist Dr Philip Lumb told the inquest at Blackburn King George's Hall the baby's injuries were "unsurvivable".

He said she had died from multiple injuries to her chest, ribcage and neck, the pattern of which was "compatible with her sustaining a number of dog bites".

In her statement to police, read out to the hearing, Ms King described discovering Ava-Jayne.

She said she had walked into the bedroom, which was lit by the landing light, and "remember seeing there was a dark stain about halfway down the bed".

"I noticed the dog was in the bedroom and I thought what is it doing there.

"Ava was halfway down the bed. My initial thought was that I needed to pick her up.

"I knelt on the bed and picked her up. She still had a blanket on her."

'Why not me?'

She said her daughter was "really floppy" and that as she had "only just woken up", she "had not realised blood was on her".

"I thought she was in a deep sleep.

"I laid Ava on the bed, kneeling over her, cuddling her, Ava made a grunting noise.

"I was giving her kisses, talking to her. Lee was screaming 'is she all right?'

"I got my phone and said I need an ambulance now."

She said she turned on a light and "saw Ava pale, her lips were really white".

"I thought she was asleep for a split second. I then noticed drops of blood on the floor.

"I ran out in the hallway. I thought I was going to pass out. I felt sick and I collapsed on the floor. I thought I [had] woke up in a nightmare and it could not be happening."

She said she rang the emergency services and her mother.

Speaking to her mother, she said: "Ava's dead. The dog got her at Lee's."

Paramedics worked to try and revive the baby before taking her to hospital, where she later died. Ms King said she was told by police she could not go with her daughter.

"I said I just wanted to die. Why could not I have died? Why did the dog not attack me? I said I did not want to live either if Ava did not make it."

Asked by the coroner Michael Singleton about the night Ava-Jayne died, Ms King said she had put her to bed after feeding her and "gave her a kiss and told her I loved her as I did every night".

"I told her she was my dream girl," she said.

She said she had checked on her daughter later in the evening and given her further kisses as she slept, before she woke at about 23:00 GMT and discovered what had happened.

'Most traumatic' scene

Ms King was also asked about the makeshift barrier which kept the dog, known as Snoop, in the kitchen.

She said it had been put in place to stop the dog jumping up at her and shedding hair.

She went on to say her daughter had "only briefly come into contact with Snoop once or twice".

"He was always in a separate room and he was never upstairs when Ava was there," she said.

"I would never have taken Ava there if I had known what was going to happen.

"It will stay with me for the rest of my life. I would do anything to trade places with her.

"She is and was my beautiful baby and I will treasure the memories."

Both Ms King and Mr Wright were both initially held on suspicion of manslaughter but in April were released without charge.

The inquest also heard a statement from a PC who went to the scene of the attack.

She described it as "the most traumatic incident I have ever attended during my police service".

Mr Singleton said she was still off work because of the trauma.

The inquest continues.

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