Lancashire

Ava-Jayne Corless death: Killer dog 'not a banned breed'

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 appeared in court to dispute it was a banned breed.

Eleven-month-old Ava-Jayne Corless was attacked while sleeping at a house in Blackburn in February 2014.

Lee Wright, 27, who is on trial at Blackburn Magistrates' Court, rejects the claim his pet, called Snoop, was a banned pit bull-type that contravened the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

He denies a charge of having in his possession or custody a fighting dog.

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

Manslaughter arrests

The defendant said they had fallen asleep on the settee downstairs and believed the dog was in the kitchen blocked in by a speaker and a golf bag stand.

Both Mr Wright and Ava-Jayne's mother were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and child neglect but faced no charges.

Police said at the time the dog - which was destroyed after the attack - had been identified by experts as a pit bull terrier-type, a banned breed under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

For the prosecution Chrissie Hunt said that District Judge Gerald Chalk presiding over the trial would have to find "a substantial number of characteristics which would allow him to reach the conclusion that the dog was of a prohibited type".

Expert witness Peter Olsen, a retired veterinary surgeon, said he was satisfied the dog conformed to the type of a pit bull terrier.

He examined the dead dog and concluded it shared a "substantial number of characteristics" with a pit bull, including a heavily muscled front.

He also cited the strength of the dog's skull, heavy, solid legs and the size, depth and shape of the eyes as being quintessential of a pit bull terrier.

The trial continues.

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