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Inquest hears how 73-year-old woman died after being attacked by police dog in her own home

An inquest heard that a 73-year-old woman died after she was bitten several times by a Cleveland Police dog in her own home.

Irene Collins was attacked twice by the dog, after police requested to enter her home in the Park End area of Middlesbrough in July 2014, when searching for a potential drug suspect. She was taken to James Cook Hospital with injuries caused by bites to her arm and leg but died four days later.

Pictured in July 2014: The garden where the search was conducted Credit: ITV News

The jury at Teesside Coroner's Court heard she let officers in to look around her garden after a car with heroin and cash worth £100,000 had been stopped and a man escaped. It was noted there was a lot of dense undergrowth in Mrs Collins' garden, so police dog 'Dano' was brought by its handler, PC Mark Baines, to join the search. It was acknowledged Mrs Collins was not made aware a dog was going to be present.

The family of Mrs Collins attended court today Credit: ITV News

Officers told the coroner's court they were not sure if the back door had been closed properly, and the dog was able to get into the house. A Cleveland Police officer investigating the incident afterwards said Mrs Collins told that she had tried to stand still, in the hope the dog wouldn't attack her, but it did, knocking her to the floor.

Sgt Neil Yates was the lead officer on the night of the search Credit: ITV News

The lead officer at the scene, Sergeant Neil Yates, said he was alerted on the radio by the dog handler that Mrs Collins had been bitten. He rushed inside to see the dog locked onto her arm. He said that, after a few seconds, the handler managed to drag the dog away to the hallway. Shortly afterwards, he said, it returned and bit Mrs Collins on the leg.

The jury heard she was screaming and asking "why is this happening to me?"

Mrs Collins had lung cancer and other health conditions, but the pathologist who carried out her post-mortem examination said she wouldn't have died when she did if she hadn't been bitten by the dog.

Handler PC Baines is due to give evidence tomorrow. The inquest is expected to last until the end of the week.