Northamptonshire Police have reviewed cases and produced “robust” new guidelines for officers after the death of Molly-Mae Wotherspoon in Daventry.
The mother and grandmother of the six-month-old baby, who died following an attack by the family owned illegal American pit bull called Bruiser, have this morning been sentenced to two years each.
Molly-Mae was fatally attacked in the family home in Daventry in October 2014. Her mother, Claire Riley, aged 23 now of Alfred Street, Northampton, pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog which caused injury resulting in death while dangerously out of control.
Riley, was sentenced to two years, half to be served in prison and half on licence. She was also disqualified for 10 years from having custody of a dog and was ordered to forfeit and destroy a photo of bruiser, his lead, harness and cage.
Grandmother Susan Aucott, aged 56, also now of Alfred Street, Northampton, pleaded guilty to being in charge of a dog which caused injury resulting in death while dangerously out of control.
Aucott was also sentenced to two years, serving half in prison and half on licence. She was also disqualified for 10 years from having custody of a dog.
Speaking outside Northampton Crown Court Jen Helm, Detective Superintendent for Safeguarding Children, said: “We welcome the sentences handed down today which bring to a close a key chapter in what has been an extremely challenging investigation by Northamptonshire Police.
“At the centre of it all has been the death of a baby girl, Molly-Mae Wotherspoon, who was fatally mauled by an American pitbull-type dog that - inquiries subsequently confirmed - was an illegal breed.
“Fortunately, such incidents are extremely rare and this was the first time in Northamptonshire that an individual has been charged with this offence.
“As we now know all too well, the events of October 3, 2014 have had tragic consequences for the family which have not ended with the death of Molly-Mae.
“If anything good is to come out of this it surely has to be a greater awareness about the ownership of banned breeds and the danger generally of dogs – any dog – being left in close proximity to a very small child.
“We are grateful to the Crown Prosecution Service with whom we worked extremely closely over many months to secure a charging decision and the sentence today sends out a very clear message to the owners of such dogs.
“I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the officers who were called to the incident on the night, in particular PC Lewis Judd and PC Nicola Line who, confronted by an horrific scene, bravely managed to successfully subdue the dog and prevent it from continuing its attack still further.
“There are lessons too to be learned from this case for Northamptonshire Police.
“Within days of this tragedy, the Force embarked upon a review of every dog incident in the 12 months prior to that night to ascertain whether there was any potential dangerous dog incident that we had not reviewed or taken action against.
“Furthermore, in December 2014, the Force produced robust new guidelines determining what our response should be to any report of a suspected Dangerous Dog.
“The case was subject to a mandatory referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and they are due to publish their findings shortly.
“A Serious Case Review will also be published within the coming weeks in which the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board will examine what learning the various agencies involved in this tragic case have had and Northamptonshire Police has been fully engaged in that process.”