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Woman whose American Bulldog mauled three-year-old to death is spared jail

You can watch a report by ITV Anglia's Malcolm Robertson by clicking above.

Jade Dunne was given a suspended sentence Credit: ITV Anglia

A 39-year-old woman from Essex has today been given a suspended prison sentence after her dog mauled a toddler to death in August last year.

Three-year-old Dexter Neal died after going to round to Jade Dunne's house next door in Halstead to play with her children.

At an earlier hearing at magistrates court, she'd admitted being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control resulting in the little boy's death.

Today at Chelmsford Crown Court, Recorder Karim Khalil also imposed 100 hours community sentence.

The court heard Dexter did nothing to provoke the dog Credit: Family picture

"Nothing I say or do can diminish the pain the Neal family must be feeling at the loss of Dexter."

– Recorder Karim Khalil

Kate Davey prosecuting, said Ruby - an American bulldog - attacked Dexter after he and his sister went to Dunne's house on August 18th.

The breed's regarded as controversial but is not on the banned list.

Dexter and his sister usually climbed over the fence to Dunne's house when the dog was locked in but on this occasion they walked round.

The court was told Dexter was scared of dogs and did absolutely nothing to provoke Ruby who pushed him to the floor and then bit him several times on the neck and the back of the head.

Alerted by the screams of the children, a neighbour managed to restrain the dog until the police arrived. Dexter's mum Pamela rushed to the scene but was unable to resuscitate him. Bleeding heavily, Dexter was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge but couldn't be saved.

Tributes were left outside the house in Halstead last August Credit: ITV Anglia

The prosecution said Dunne had been cooking at the time of the attack and made some attempt to stop the attacking Dexter, but not a very good one. She tried to hit it with a tea towel but this had no effect. The dog was later destroyed.

The court was told Dunne had been inadequate in looking after Ruby failing to properly exercise her and sometimes not muzzling her when out.

Victim statements were read out from Dexter's parents and sister, outlining the devastating impact his death had had on the family. "Everybody had said what a sweet little boy he was," said Ms Davey.

Defending Dunne, Steven Levy said there had never been issues with the dog and the children before. It had come from a rehoming centre and the defendant had gone through the normal checks, She was under the impression one of her children had shut the dog in on the day of the attack Because of the sensitivities, she had moved away from Halstead after Dexter's death. She's been disqualified from owning a dog for 10 years.

After the case, Stuart Truss, the senior investigating officer, said Dexter's parents were campaigning to get the regulations tightened up on dangerous dogs.

"For Dexter's parents this has always been about someone accepting responsibility for his death which Jade Dunne did the day she pleaded guilty. For me it's about finalisation, " said Det Insp Truss. "No sentence is ever going to give them any comfort because it's never going to bring Dexter back so probably like ourselves they accept the sentence albeit they're probably not pleased with it.

– Det Insp Stuart Truss, senior investigating officer

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