A MERSEYSIDE man was warned he could face jail after he admitted owning the American Pit Bull Terrier which killed his five-year-old niece.
As reported previously. Ellie Lawrenson was attacked and killed by the dog while staying at her grandmother's home in St Helens, Merseyside, in the early hours of New Year's Day.
Her uncle, 24-year-old Kiel Simpson, pleaded guilty at Liverpool magistrates' court last week to owning a dog banned under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, namely an American Pit Bull Terrier. Simpson, the brother of Ellie's mother, Lindsey Simpson, will be sentenced on May 16.
He was released on unconditional bail, but bench chairman Valerie Bennett warned him: "Although we know you are remorseful, we are going to adjourn the case for reports, with all sentencing options open, including custody."
Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, told the court that Simpson had bought the dog from a man in a pub shortly before Christmas 2005. He named the four-week-old puppy Reuben, fed him, had him vaccinated and took him on long exercise runs.
By 2006, the harmless pup had grown into a highly-muscled, 40 kilo animal of ‘immeasurable strength’. It was shot dead by a Merseyside Police marksman shortly after Ellie was mauled at 4.23am on January 1. Its body was examined by a police expert, who found it to be one of the most powerful Pit Bull Terriers he had ever seen.
The court heard that Reuben had been involved in two previous incidents. In May last year, he attacked a neighbour's Jack Russell Terrier. And last November he bit Kiel's younger sister, Kelsey Simpson. She needed hospital treatment for three puncture wounds to her thigh. After the last incident, Simpson kept the dog outside the house, but on the fateful night, for reasons as yet undisclosed, the dog was taken indoors by Simpson’s mother.
Mr Fogarty said Simpson voluntarily attended a police station on January 3 and admitted that the dog was his. He said his client, a convicted drug dealer with nine previous convictions for various offences, felt "morally responsible" for the death of Ellie, and that he "wanted to crawl into a hole".
Simpson lived in a house belonging to his mother, 46-year-old Jacqueline Simpson, in the Eccleston area of St Helens. Mrs Simpson was baby-sitting Ellie on the night in question and appeared before Liverpool Crown Court on the same day as her son was attending the magistrates’ court, charged with unlawful killing by gross negligence.
She did not enter a plea but Paul Becker, defending, indicated that his client would deny the charge. The case was adjourned until August, and a provisional trial date was set for September 3. She was granted unconditional bail.