Lancashire

Ava-Jayne Corless death: Dog owner Lee Wright jailed

Ava-Jayne Corless Image copyright lancashire police
Image caption Ava-Jayne Corless suffered multiple injuries to her chest and neck

The owner of a dog that mauled an 11-month-old baby to death has been jailed for 18 weeks.

Ava-Jayne Corless was attacked while sleeping at a house in Blackburn, Lancashire, in February 2014.

Lee Wright, 27, had denied the charge his pet, called Snoop, was a banned pit bull-type that contravened the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

He was also banned from keeping dogs for five years when he was sentenced at Blackburn Magistrates' Court.

District Judge Gerald Chalk had earlier warned Wright he faced jail when he requested a pre-sentence report.

'Gravest harm'

Passing sentence, the judge said: "You allowed a dog of nine stone in weight to have contact with a young child asleep in your bed. You were aware that dog had access.

"That dog killed that child in an offence of the gravest harm imaginable.

"Only a custodial sentence can be justified."

But he added: "You clearly felt the tragedy and have shown some remorse."

The judge had agreed there was no evidence to suggest Wright had known the dog was of a prohibited breed.

He said both expert witnesses had relied on the American Dog Breeders Association as standard in making their assessment of the dog, but said it was "comment rather than definitive".

Wright had disputed the pet was a banned pit bull-type dog, saying he believed it to be a legal breed.

Ava-Jayne was killed in February 2014 at the defendant's house on Emily Street, Blackburn, as her mother Chloe King and Wright - her then-boyfriend - slept.

They believed the dog was in the kitchen blocked in by a speaker and a golf bag stand.

Police said at the time the dog - which was destroyed after the attack - had been identified by experts as a pit bull terrier-type.

During the two-day trial, expert witness Peter Olsen, a retired veterinary surgeon, had examined the dead dog and concluded it shared a "substantial number of characteristics" with a pit bull.

But veterinary surgeon and animal behaviourist expert Elizabeth Kendal Shepherd said she was "unable to form any reliable opinion" about the dog's breed.

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