Grandmother sentenced after dog mauls granddaughter


A grandmother has been sentenced after her grandson's dog mauled her granddaughter, leaving her with horrific injuries.

Liverpool magistrates' court heard that Joan Purcell, 69, looked after a large American Bull Dog called Cheech at her home in Liverpool for her grandson, Connor Southerland, 25.

Southerland had moved out of the address but Cheech continued to live with Purcell and Southerland called each day to walk the dog.

On 9 December last year, Joan Purcell was in the front room of her home with two of her granddaughters, including the victim, five-year-old Millie Purcell and two dogs.

The children were playing on the sofa. Millie fell off and Cheech attacked her, causing serious injuries to her head, neck and hands.

Ms Purcell tried to get the dog off her granddaughter but couldn't, despite suffering cuts to her hands in the attempt.

She shouted to her son, Terrence, who lived opposite, but he couldn't release the dog’s grip either. Eventually he freed Millie after stabbing the dog several times with a kitchen knife.

Millie was rushed to hospital in a neighbour's car. Joan Sutherland was later charged with being in charge of a dog, dangerously out of control, causing injury, and she pleaded guilty. Southerland later gave his permission for the dog to be destroyed.

Associate Prosecutor Lynn Clark, prosecuted the case for Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service.

She said: "This is probably one of the worst dangerous dog cases I've dealt with.

"The child's parents didn't support this prosecution, for understandable reasons - their mother was in charge of the dog when the attack happened - but the Crown Prosecution Service decided that it was in the public interest to pursue this case. The child's injuries were horrific. She had severe injuries to the back of her head, neck and hand.

"Cheech was an extremely powerful dog yet it was in the same room as two very young children when the incident happened.

"The Crown Prosecution Service takes cases like this very seriously and will strongly pursue a prosecution where necessary. Dogs may be loved family pets, but they can also cause serious injury, as we’ve seen all too clearly here.

"Ms Purcell has been given a jail term of four months, suspended for a year and cannot own a dog for five years. She was also ordered to pay £85 towards the costs of the case and a victim surcharge of £115."