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Woman whose American bulldog mauled boy, 3, to death spared jail

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, at Chelmsford Crown Court.

A woman whose American bulldog mauled to death a neighbour’s little boy who had gone round to her house to play with her children has been spared jail.

Three-year-old Dexter Neal died in hospital after being bitten by Jade Dunne’s dog Ruby at her home in Halstead, Essex, on the afternoon of August 18 last year.

Mother-of-three Dunne, 29, admitted being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control, resulting in death, at an earlier hearing.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday.

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Dexter Neal (Essex Police/PA)

Recorder Karim Khalil also disqualified her from owning a dog for 10 years and ordered her to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

Kate Davey, prosecuting, said Dexter’s family lived around the corner from the Dunnes, and their garden backed on to hers. Dexter would often play with the Dunne children and would be picked up over the fence to save him walking round, but on this occasion he walked around and through the lean-to where the dog was kept, beside the Dunnes’ home.

The dog did not react when Dexter’s sister and one of the Dunne children walked past, but went for Dexter, who was following behind them.

“The dog pushed Dexter to the floor,” said Ms Davey. “The dog then bit Dexter’s neck more than once and there were bites to the back of Dexter’s head.”

She said Dexter, who was scared of dogs, bled “copiously” and once he was knocked down he could not get back up. “Dexter did absolutely nothing to provoke the dog,” she said. “There’s no question of teasing or anything else.”

She said Dunne came through from the kitchen when she heard screams and hit the dog repeatedly with a tea towel, which had “no effect” on the animal. A neighbour managed to grab the dog’s collar and haul it away.

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Jade Dunne arrives at Chelmsford Crown Court for sentencing after she pleaded guilty to being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control (John Stillwell/PA)

Dexter was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where he died later that day with his mother beside him, having suffered cardiac arrest due to blood loss. Ms Davey said Dexter was a “well-loved little toddler” with a “sunny nature” who “loved his cuddles”.

The dog was seized by officers and destroyed after the attack.

Dunne, formerly of Parker Way, Halstead, and now of St Mary’s Road, Kelvedon, appeared tearful throughout the hearing, which was attended by members of Dexter’s wider family but not by his parents Pamela and Andrew.

Steven Levy, mitigating for Dunne, said the single mother wanted to apologise to Dexter’s family through him.

Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector Stuart Truss said he had spoken to Dexter’s parents after sentencing.

“I think initially there was probably some slight disappointment but for them this was always about someone accepting responsibility, which has happened,” he said.

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