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Women jailed after court told how 79-year-old man 'eaten alive' by starving dog in Liverpool

Clifford Clarke Photo: Merseyside Police

Two women have been jailed for 12 months each after a pensioner was "literally eaten alive" by their dog.

Retired hospital porter Clifford Clarke, 79, was mauled in his garden in Liverpool after he opened his back door while he was cooking a meal.

The Presa Canario cross-breed dog had earlier escaped from the garden of his next-door neighbour in Richard Kelly Close in the Norris Green area of the city.

Della Woods, left, and Hayley Sulley, centre, arrive at court Credit: ITV Granada

Last month, Hayley Sulley, 30, of Richard Kelly Close, and Della Woods, 29, of Swallowhurst Crescent, Norris Green, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act of allowing a dog to enter a place where it was not allowed to be and where it injured a person.

Today, both women wept in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court as Judge Mark Brown told them Mr Clarke's death was "entirely avoidable".

Both defendants had left the dog, Charlie, unattended in the garden on a hot day last May without water and shade while they went to a barbecue.

Both women, who are in a relationship, were told by the judge that they were fortunate not to have been charged with manslaughter.

He said the maximum sentence he could pass was two years.

New laws have been brought in since the fatal attack which has increased the maximum term to 14 years but the judge said that could not be applied retrospectively.

A policeman outside Clifford Clarke's house Credit: ITV Granada

Judge Brown said: "I hope that the recent changes to the law will be of some small comfort to Mr Clarke's family.

"Figures released recently show that the number of dangerous dogs seized by the police have risen 50% in just two years in some police forces around the country."

The court heard that the "wild" and "out of control" Presa Canario sank its teeth into Mr Clarke's arm and dragged him around his garden.

The dog effectively chewed his arm off and also mauled his other arm. Mr Clarke died from multiple injuries and blood loss.

Neighbours were unable to get into the garden to help the pensioner, while one neighbour rang for a dog warden but was told there was a four-hour wait.

The dog attacked police officers when they arrived on the scene and they were forced to attempt to distract it before an armed unit arrived.

A marksman had to shoot the dog twice after it continued to approach following the first strike, the court was told.