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Ellie’s grandmother goes on trial


A WOMAN charged over the death of her granddaughter took drugs and alcohol the day the five-year-old was mauled by the family’s Pit Bull Terrier, a court heard on Monday.

Jacqueline Simpson, 46, from St Helens, Merseyside went on trial this week at Liverpool Crown Court accused of causing manslaughter by gross negligence.

Ellie Lawrenson died from catastrophic injuries within moments of the dog Reuben, jumping up at her in the early hours of New Year’s Day when Simpson let it into the house.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court heard that Simpson, who was babysitting for Ellie’s parents, Lindsey Simpson, 25, and Darren Lawrenson, 31, had allegedly broken ‘a clear family rule’ by allowing the pit bull into the house while the child was present.

She had also rejected the idea of getting rid of Reuben despite the animal having mauled one of her daughters, Kelsey, 20, less than six weeks earlier.

On Monday, Neil Flewitt QC told Liverpool Crown Court Simpson’s judgment may have been impaired by smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol.

The court heard that Simpson gave a different account of events to a paramedic taking her to hospital. In this version she made no mention of a firework, but said she had allowed the dog in for some tea because it was moaning.

Simpson agreed in her police interview that she should have got rid of the animal. Asked about her actions on the night, she replied: ‘I shouldn’t have let it in, should I?’

Simpson admitted smoking cannabis and drinking four glasses of wine and lemonade in the hours before the attack. Mr Flewitt said that following the attack on Kelsey Simpson, Ellie’s mother took extra precautions to ensure her safety.

She always made sure that Reuben was outside and that the back door was locked, and if she ever left Ellie in the house she would always remove the keys from the back door and put them on a kitchen unit out of her reach.

On November 21, 2006, six weeks before Ellie was killed, Reuben attacked Simpson’s daughter, Kelsey.

In an interview, the defendant admitted she should have kept the dog outside. She told officers: ‘I shouldn’t have let him in, should I?’

Police were called to the house in St Helens, and shot the dog dead after two handlers agreed they could not deal with it.

In April this year, Simpson’s son, Kiel, 24, who lives with her, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court to unlawfully possessing a pit bull terrier in breach of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act and was jailed for just eight weeks.

Jacqueline Simpson’s trial continued earlier this week.