Mum of three mauled to death by her own dogs in Widnes

Billy and DJ were both put down after the attack Credit: Liverpool Echo

A mum of three was mauled to death by her two American bulldogs - which may have attacked her to protect her pregnant daughter.

Elayne Stanley, 44, was savaged by pets DJ and Billy at home on Graham Road in Widnes in September 2019, when the animals turned on her during a row between her and her daughter Louise Smith.

An inquest in Warrington heard Liverpool-born care assistant Miss Stanley suffered multiple bite wounds to her upper arms, back, scalp and her neck, where one of the bites had “completely transected” her jugular vein.

Mauled to death - Elayne Stanley Credit: Liverpool Echo

Her 12-year-old twin daughters had been upstairs at the time but did not witness the attack.

Jason Lennox, Cheshire police dog legislation officer, told the hearing he was called to help with the emergency response, and said firearms officers were called on to put DJ to sleep after the large dog continued to be aggressive despite two doses of sedation.

He said American bulldogs have guarding instincts and may have been acting to try to protect Louise during the row with her mother.

When Louise asked whether her being pregnant at the time might have been a factor, Mr Lennox replied “yes”, adding that dogs were more attuned than humans to body language and hormone changes, and may have detected the pregnancy.

The dogs may have attacked because their owner's daughter was pregnant Credit: Liverpool Echo

Elayne Stanley, 44, was remembered as a "lovely woman" following her death.

Her daughter Louise said she and her mother had been having a “heated discussion”, and that previously she had no concerns about the dogs - which she thought were bull mastiffs.

DJ was first to strike as Louise went to leave the house. She told the inquest: “DJ bit my mum on the bottom of her leg.

“I tried to get the other dog into the kitchen - she turned round and saw what was happening and went for her as well.

“I went to get help.”

"They were really big dogs, there was no way I was getting two dogs off her."

Louise Smith, Elayne Stanley's daughter
Elayne Stanley was described as "a lovely woman." Credit: Liverpool Echo

The court heard neighbours threw bricks into the house at the dogs and eventually managed to contain them in the back garden of the property.

Paramedics attended to Miss Stanley but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The inquest heard the dogs had a history of violence and had belonged to Miss Stanley’s partner Paul Leigh from Runcorn, but had been living with her for more than a year.

Mr Lennox said the dogs had attacked a dog on 2 March 2016, when they charged out of Mr Leigh’s former home, and left the dog with such serious injuries it had to be put down.

Mr Leigh was convicted of two counts of having a dog dangerously out of control and made subject to a dog control order requiring muzzles and leads or harnesses in public, as well as registered microchipping.

The dogs again attacked another dog on 17 May 2016, when Mr Leigh was living in Winsford, and bit the owner’s leg, but no complaint followed.

Mr Leigh did not attend the inquest despite being asked to. Neighbours of Miss Stanley's also testified the dogs could be noisy and intimidating.

The scene of the fatal attack in Widnes in 2019 Credit: Liverpool Echo

Peter Sigee, assistant for coroner for Cheshire, recorded a narrative conclusion, that Elayne Stanley had died from multiple dog bite injuries.