A MOTHER and her boyfriend have been released on bail pending further enquiries after a dog mauled an 11-month-old baby to death in Blackburn.
Police confirmed that a detailed investigation was underway following the death of baby Ava-Jayne Marie Corless.
The baby's mother, Chloe King, 20, and her boyfriend, Lee Wright, 26, who is not Ava-Jayne's father, were released on bail after being arrested on suspicion of child neglect and manslaughter.
Chief Superintendent Chris Bithell said: “This is an absolutely horrific incident in which a baby girl lost her life and we would like to take this opportunity to express my sympathy to the wider family.
“The circumstances of the incident are that at around 11pm on Monday 10th February, police were called by the ambulance service to an address on Emily Street following reports that an eleven month old baby girl had been mauled by a pet dog.
“Police officers who attended performed CPR on the baby alongside paramedics before she was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital. Sadly she passed away at hospital a short time later. A Home Office Post Mortem examination will be carried out later today to establish exactly how she died.
“Officers are continuing to carry out enquiries at the scene and investigate the circumstances of what has happened.
“Family liaison officers have been put in place to offer support to the wider family of the baby.
“Nobody else was injured during the incident.”
The dog involved has been identified by experts as a Pit Bull Terrier type dog. This is a Section 1 prohibited dog under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. It was tranquilised at the scene before being destroyed.
The baby was upstairs in a front bedroom while the couple were downstairs at the time of the attack.
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Jean Dawson, 70, who lives on nearby Belper Street, said: "We had just gone to bed when we heard the sounds of the police cars and looked out the window.
“We saw the officers outside on the street through the curtains. It's a nice neighbourhood and this sort of thing has never happened before.
“It's so sad that this has happened. The dogs around here all tend to be quite nice and there are no problems.
“We went back to bed after an hour but the police were still on the street. Sometimes you hear a dog barking but it is rarely a problem to people."
Abdul Patel, 34, who lives in Florence Street, said: "I was coming back from shopping last night around 11pm when I heard a dog barking.
“I thought it was just a normal incident at first but then I saw the police.
“It's absolutely terrible what has happened and it's so sad. I’m shocked to be honest. This is a nice neighbourhood and this sort of thing doesn't happen."
Blackburn with Darwen council leader Kate Hollern said: “This is a tragic loss on an innocent life which has saddened the whole community.”
Tory group leader MiKe Lee said: “This is a most awful incident for the whole family. A real tragedy. Dogs can be fantastic but can be dagerous around children.
“I really think dogs and small children don’t mix.
“Even good tempered dogs can turn on children and they should be kept apart.”
Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: "This is the most awful killing, of an innocent eleven month old baby by an out-of-control, and self-evidently dangerous dog.
"What will it take to convince people not to keep dogs like this - and to get across to all dog-owners, of every breed of dog, that no dog should ever be left unsupervised with a baby?
"However domesticated a dog may be, its hunting instinct can take over in a moment.
"It's too early to say whether the legislation on dangerous dogs should be strengthened in the light of this terrible loss of life. I shall however give active consideration to pressing for changes once I have more details of what happened".
Local residents were at the scene today to pay their respects to Ava-Jayne.
Lewis Baron, a 15 year-old pupil of Central Blackburn High School who lives in Pelham Street said: “We came because we wanted to give our condolences, to pay our respects.”
Faheem Mahmood, 17, also of Pelin Street said: “We are shocked that it happened to close to our houses. We don’t think about things like this happening on our own doorstep. I know Lee and I’ve used to see him walking to the shop with the dog. He is friends with people that I know and it’s just such a shock.
Andrew Longford – friend of Dean Corless said: “I knew the family and it’s a big shock. I’ve never seen the dog though. We are really upset and just devastated by what’s happened – especially because I have kids myself. Dean is a friend of mine and I can’t believe it.”
A Belper Street resident said: “It’s such a shock. We just saw police cars and ambulances. It could happen to your own grandchild it’s just an accident that you don’t think would happen. I saw [Lee] often and he was always a lovely lad. I saw him with the dog too and he always had it on a lead. It’s just a freak accident and I feel so sorry for him and the mum and the little baby.”
Pendle’s Andrew Stephenson has led calls in Parliament for more effective laws to curb the excesses of dangerous dogs and rogue owners.
The MP spoke out in 2011 after police brought a civil action against the owner of a Staffordshire bull terrier which attacked 10-year-old Joe Pickering in Colne after it had been given strong lager.
Later, police took a civil action against the owner of the dog, James Holmes, after they discovered that Paul Ashworth, the man who gave the dog Stella Artois, could not be prosecuted under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Mr Stephenson said: “This further horrific incident highlights what has become a widespread concern in Lancashire and the rest of the country for a number of years.
“Dangerous dogs, and occasionally irresponsible owners, can lead to very tragic events, and we are always reading in our newspapers and hearing about cases which can leave families devastated.
“The government has undertaken a range of measures to try to clamp down on dangerous dogs and irresponsible dog owners and are constantly keeping the situation under review because, quite clearly, there is further action that can and should be taken.
“I personally believe that owning a dog can be a real joy but we need to ensure that the breeds people can look after are not inherently dangerous and are properly trained and looked after so that situations like this become far less frequent.”
The MP has supported calls by postal workers for greater protection against dogs running wild on private land and his mother Ann had the tip of a finger bitten off by a dog while delivering election leaflets in May 2012.
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