Family pay tribute to great-grandmother killed in dog attack

Credit: West Midlands Police

The family of 85-year-old Lucille Downer, who was killed in a dog attack on Friday, have paid tribute to her saying "we will miss her dearly".

The great-grandmother suffered suffered multiple injuries after two dogs broke into her garden on Boundary Avenue in Rowley Regis.

The animals had escaped from a neighbouring property through a hole in the fence.

In a statement her 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."

Police at the scene in Rowley Regis, West Midlands Credit: PA

The owner of the two dogs, a 43-year-old man, was arrested shortly after the incident and has been bailed pending further inquiries.

Shortly after the arrival of police at the scene, the animals were tranquilised and taken to a nearby kennels where they are being tested to determine their breed.

On Saturday morning, flowers were left on Ms Downer driveway, with one displaying the message “RIP Nan”.

The property remains sealed off and a large police van was parked outside the house.

  • Superintendent Phil Asquith says such incident are rare

Speaking at a press conference outside West Bromwich Police Station on Saturday, Superintendent Phil Asquith 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.

Police at the scene in Rowley Regis, West Midlands Credit: PA

"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.”

Asked what injuries Ms Downer had suffered in the incident, Superintendent Asquith said: "The dogs will have unfortunately carried out a fairly sustained attack so there were multiple injuries, mainly caused as a result of the delay in getting into the garden.

"But the specifics of the injuries I can’t go into."

Speaking about the breed of the dogs, Superintendent Asquith said: "They were two large dogs but we cannot speculate.

A woman leaving flower outside the house of the pensioner Credit: PA

"The DNA samples have to be taken to determine the specific breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act (to see if) they are specific breeds that are banned – and I can’t speculate as to whether or not they are banned dogs."

Superintendent Asquith said neighbours responded "very quickly" to the pensioner being attacked and family members were able to access the garden quickly as they lived nearby.

He added: "Fortunately, the actual owner returned home and was able to get the dogs back into their area at the adjacent premises."