Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Man bailed over dog mauling death

Sutton Borough Commander Guy Ferguson speaks to the media on Demesne Road, in Wallington where a woman was mauled to death
Police outside a property in Demesne Road in Wallington where a woman was mauled to death by a dog

A man arrested in connection with the death of a woman mauled by a dog at her home has been released on bail.

Alex Blackburn-Smith, 34, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following the victim's death at a house on Demesne Road, Wallington, south London.

She was named locally as Barbara Williams, thought to be in her 50s and a lodger at the property. The Belgian mastiff, described by one officer as large and ferocious, was shot dead by police marksmen.

Blackburn-Smith had also been arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis, but has now been bailed to return to a south London police station in late January pending further inquiries.

Detective Chief Superintendent Guy Ferguson described the dog as "distinctly large" and said that at the time of Thursday's attack another woman of similar age to Ms Williams was in the house with a child under five.

"It was a very ferocious dog," he said. "The officers had to use shields to contain the dog."

Sutton Council confirmed it had received a complaint about dogs damaging a neighbour's fence last year.

"The council and the police's safer neighbourhood team were contacted in connection with another smaller dog and damage to a fence at this address in August 2009," said councillor Colin Hall, responsible for dog control. "At that point there were no legal grounds for the council to intervene on the basis of our statutory powers."

Earlier, Mr Ferguson said Blackburn-Smith was the main occupier of the premises. It is thought the victim was a lodger at the property, which was "controlled" by Blackburn-Smith.

Neighbours said the Belgian mastiff was "a big strong dog" and were afraid to let their children play in the garden when it was next door.

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