A great-grandmother with dementia who was mauled to death after being ‘dragged around her garden by her neck’ by a neighbour’s two escaped pitbulls has been named and pictured for the first time.
Lucille Downer, 85, suffered fatal injuries in yesterday’s shocking attack, which saw dogs break through a fence into her garden, where they then ‘went for her throat like a dog would with a toy’.
Neighbours on the street in Birmingham spoke of their shock this morning, and left floral tributes outside the property, which police continued to cordon off.
In a statement this afternoon, the victim’s family said: ‘Lucille was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who spent her working years as a cook at Bromford House Care Home in West Bromwich.
‘Lucille was born in Jamaica and emigrated to the UK in her early 20s. Since arriving in the UK, Rowley Regis has always been her home and her family will miss her dearly.’
Lucille suffered fatal injuries when the ‘dangerously out of control’ animals – believed to be pit bulls – cornered and attacked her.
An air ambulance was dispatched and landed near her home but she was confirmed dead at the scene.
A 43-year-old man was last night detained on suspicion of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control. He has since been released on bail.
Armed police swooped on the pensioner’s property after they were alerted to the incident in Rowley Regis, a town west of the second city, at around 3.20pm.
A vet had raced to the scene armed with a tranquiliser to sedate the animals, which have since been seized to establish their breed.
Locals today left tributes in memory of the pensioner outside her home, with one bunch of flowers reading: ‘RIP Nan, much love Carlos xx’.
A dog walker, who regularly visits the street, said he believed the dogs had broken through a fence panel and set upon the victim, as he revealed she was particularly vulnerable.
He said: ‘I never knew the lady but I’ve just spoken to her other neighbour. I know that she was very old and frail and in her 80s apparently she had dementia as well.
‘Her neighbour said they had just had a new fence put in as well and the dogs managed to destroy a panel at the back of the shed and got into her garden and they never left.
‘Apparently they went for her throat like a dog would with a toy. It’s truly horrific.’
Another neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘From what I’ve heard this is incredibly out of character for them. They always seemed to be well behaved.
‘But it’s just horrific what’s happened, I feel terrible for the old lady. I never knew her but still you just feel so sorry for her and her family.’
One gentleman, who had come to lay down a bunch of flowers, said: ‘I never knew the lady but I had seen her around.
‘I’ve just come to pay my respects and lay some flowers in her memory just to do something nice.
‘But it’s awful what has happened and what I’ve read so far, it’s truly awful.’
Another gentleman, who also came to lay a bunch of flowers and wanted to remain anonymous, said: ‘I used to call her nan she was just such a lovely lady.
‘She was everything you ever wanted in a nan she was so funny and kind, charismatic and would just make you laugh.
‘I feel so sad about what’s happened she was just an absolute character.
‘It’s absolutely horrific what has happened and for an old lady in her 80s to go like that it’s not right.
‘You always want someone that old to go peacefully not like that, the way she did it’s so horrible it doesn’t even bear thinking about. It’s just shocking it’s so sad.’
Another dog walker, who lives a few houses down, said: ‘I only heard what had happened because my grandsons were out playing yesterday.
‘So I immediately went out to try find them as I heard the ambulances but then it was all just gossip and what I’ve read.
‘I’ve never ever seen the dogs walked and I have a staffie too and he’s as dopey as anything they have a bad name.
‘But it doesn’t give an excuse for what’s happened it’s so horrible.’
Today, police released more details about the attack including how ‘two large dogs’ managed to get through a fence panel into the victim’s garden.
Superintendent Phil Asquith, from the Sandwell Neighbourhood Police Team, said: ‘Neighbours called to report that a woman, 85 years of age, was under attack from dogs from a neighbouring property.
‘Our officers attended, by which point the dogs had returned through a hole in the fence to the adjacent property and then, unfortunately, despite the best efforts of medical professionals, that lady died at the scene.
‘An operation was then under way to secure the dogs. They were tranquilised and transported subsequently to secure kennels where they currently remain and they are being tested to determine their breed.
‘Fortunately, these types of incidents are rare. This presented no wider threat to the public. It was a hole in adjacent premises so they weren’t running in the streets.
‘It was contained and the male who owned those dogs was arrested yesterday. He has subsequently been bailed for further inquiries whilst we undertake a forensic post-mortem to determine the cause of death and to determine the breed of the dogs involved.’
Police said she ‘sustained dog bite injuries’, but noted that a post mortem examination would take place soon to establish the cause of death.
Pictures from the scene on Friday evening showed a large presence of armed police officers outside a home, as well as a vet carrying a tranquilliser gun.
Two dogs have also been seized, the police said, and they would be examined to determine their breed.
A rescue helicopter was spotted at the scene, and an air ambulance had landed in nearby Britannia Park while police cordoned off the road.
A vet was seen leaving through the property along with armed officers carrying orange body bags used to hold the two dogs.
Forensic officers were also said to be at the scene, along with two police vehicles with dogs inside, reports said.
Passersby were urged to avoid the area in the town where pictures showed several emergency vehicles parked on the street.
There were also pictures that showed an air ambulance landing in a nearby field.
A police presence will remain at the scene as officers work to establish the events leading to the woman’s death, West Midlands Police said.
‘Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the woman at this deeply distressing time,’ the police statement concluded.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Tom Pyman