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Boy, nine, killed by dog after being left alone with animal suffered ‘devastating injuries’, inquest told

Written by on 16/09/2021

A nine-year-old boy suffered “devastating and extensive” as he was mauled to death by a family friend’s dog after being left alone in the caravan with the animal, an inquest has heard.

Frankie MacRitchie, from Plymouth, was on holiday in Cornwall when he was attacked by a 45kg American bulldog cross Staffordshire bull terrier in April 2019.

Dr Deborah Cook, a Home Office registered forensic pathologist, told Cornwall Coroner’s Court the schoolboy had died from blood loss caused by multiple dog bites.

She said: “The concentration of the injuries over the head and the neck is in keeping with the recognised behaviour of dogs in attack.”

Frankie had appeared to have suffered defensive bite wounds, so may well have attempted to fight off the attack, Dr Cook said.

Frankie MacRitchie was killed in 2019
Image: Frankie MacRitchie was killed in 2019

She added: “The injuries are so devastating and so extensive anyone, a child or adult, would have died from the blood loss. Even if it occurred outside the front door of a large hospital, I doubt Frankie could have survived.”

The child had been staying in a caravan at Tencreek Holiday Park in Looe with his mother, Tawney Willis, and her friend Sadie Totterdell.

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On the night of his death, Ms Willis and Ms Totterdell left Frankie alone with the animal and spent the evening partying at the site’s social club and later in a neighbouring caravan, where they continued drinking.

The pair were later prosecuted and jailed.

Cornwall Coroner’s Court heard the emergency services were alerted shortly before 5am on 13 April when Ms Willis returned to the caravan and found Frankie lying on the kitchen floor, covered in blood.

He was declared dead at 5.35am.

Friend Cheryl Crocker said she became aware of the incident when she heard screaming.

“Tawney came running in screaming. Tawney kept screaming and screaming and she needed to find Frankie’s nan,” she said.

Her partner Jordan Pearce said after the attack, Totterdell fled the caravan park, taking Winston with her.

“I remember Sadie coming towards our caravan and saying, ‘What do I do? I’m going to take him and kill him’,” he said.

“She tried getting the dog into our caravan and I remember kicking the dog out and saying the dog’s not coming in here, and that’s when she just disappeared, and no one knew where she went.”

Sadie Totterdell was jailed for three years after her American bulldog cross killed Frankie Macritchie
Image: Sadie Totterdell was jailed for three years after her American bulldog cross killed Frankie MacRitchie

Members of the family, who were present at the inquest, thanked the emergency services for their work trying to save Frankie and grandmother Pauline Elford said they brought comfort by allowing family to sit with Frankie in his final moments.

Frankie had been born with a congenital heart condition and was prescribed warfarin for thinning his blood, but this was not a factor in his death.

Last year, Totterdell, who admitted owning a dangerously out of control dog, was jailed for three years.

Willis, who admitted child neglect, was sentenced to two years in prison.

The inquest continues.

 Sky News

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