Girl died as a result of dog attack, coroner rules

A four-year-old girl died when she was mauled to death at home in Leicestershire by the family's pet bulldog, a coroner has recorded in a narrative verdict.

The coroner said he would make recommendations to avoid similar deaths in future, drawing attention to the lack of national standards for rehoming dogs in kennels.

The Aylestone bulldog-type family pet killed Lexi Branson after attacking her in the lounge of their two-bedroom flat in November 2013.

Lexi's mother told the inquest at Rutland and North Leicestershire Coroner's Court that the animal had gone straight for the four-year-old's throat.

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Lexi's mother: Tragedy still too painful to talk about

The mother of a four-year-old girl mauled to death by the family's pet dog said the death of her "bubbly" daughter is still too painful to talk about.

A coroner today ruled that Lexi Branson died when the family's 79lb Aylestone-type dog attacked her at home last November.

Lexi Branson was killed after being attacked by the dog at her Leicestershire home. Credit: Police handout

"The last 10 months have been extremely difficult for me and all who knew and loved Lexi. She was a bubbly girl who always had a smile and brought happiness to everyone she met," Jodi Hudson said after the verdict.

"We still think about her everyday and she lives on in our hearts as we have such wonderful memories of her. Her death is still too painful to talk about."

Ms Hudson said she hoped "in time the tragic events of that afternoon will ease."

Coroner critical of lack of standards on rehoming dogs

The coroner in the inquest into the death of Lexi Branson has said he will be "making recommendations" to try and prevent further deaths.

In his conclusion, he drew attention to a lack of "national standards regarding the rehoming of stray dogs".

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Coroner: Child died from injuries after dog attack

The Coroner has delivered his conclusion on the death of a four-year-old girl who was attacked by her family's pet bulldog.

ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman reports:

Dog which killed 4-year-old adopted without home visit

By Ben Chapman: ITV News Correspondent

A powerful dog which mauled to death a young girl was allowed to be adopted by the family without a home visit, an inquest has heard.

Lexi Branson, 4, died when the Aylestone Bulldog, named Mulan, turned on her at home last November.

Michael Watts, the owner of the Willow Tree Rehoming Centre, today told a coroner the family did "not necessarily" qualify for a home visit, despite living in a small flat, with no secure garden. Staff had previously considered Mulan unsuitable to be rehomed with young children, because of her size.

"Our policy is that we may visit the home if we're in any doubt about the suitability of the home for the dog," he said.

But one was not carried out for Mulan, despite a conversation with Lexi's mother, Jodi Hudson, about her circumstances.

"That issue was discussed with Jodi and a decision made for her to consider whether to take the dog," Mr Watts said. "The responsibility is with both parties. If we believe the dog was potentially suitable and the owner wanted to take the dog, initially on a trial basis, then fine."

He told the court all dogs could be brought back to the centre if the adoption was not working out, and he said a follow up phone call was made to Ms Hudson.

Lexi was attacked a month later.

Centre did not visit Lexi's home before giving dog away

By Ben Chapman: ITV News Correspondent

No visit to Lexi Branson's home was made by staff at the rehoming centre before allowing the family to take the dog, an inquest has heard.

Lexi Branson was killed after being attacked by the dog at her Leicestershire home. Credit: PA Wire

Michael Watts, the owner of the centre, said Lexi Branson and her mother's flat was small with no secure garden, but did "not necessarily" qualify for a home visit before giving them the dog.

Watts added that Lexi's mother Jodi Hudson "was given the opportunity to go away and think about" whether it was appropriate to take the dog.

Responsibility for the decision about suitability lies with both the rehoming centre and the potential owner, he added.

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Rehoming centre 'used suitable staff' to assess dog

By Ben Chapman: ITV News Correspondent

The inquest is hearing from Michael Watts, owner of the Willow Tree Rehoming Centre, where Lexi Branson and her mum adopted the dog from.

The owner says he employed "suitable" staff - with experience of handling dogs - to carry out assessments of dogs' temperament.

The rehoming centre relied upon "on the job training" for the staff who assessed dogs as no external training took place.

Inquest into death of girl mauled by dog set to resume

A verdict is expected at the inquest into the fatal mauling of a four-year-old girl who was attacked by her family's pet bulldog.

The Aylestone bulldog-type family pet killed Lexi Branson after attacking her in the lounge of their two-bedroom flat in November 2013.

Lexi Branson was four years old when she was mauled to death by the family dog. Credit: Leicestershire Police/PA Wire

Yesterday Lexi's mother told the inquest at Rutland and North Leicestershire Coroner's Court that the animal has gone straight for the four year old's throat.

The dog, called Mulan, had been collected from a kennels for strays by Lexi's mother Jodi Hudson a few weeks before.

Attack bulldog 'better suited to home without children'

A member of staff at the rehoming centre has told the inquest into the death of four-year-old Lexi Branson that she recommended the dog was better suited to a home without children. ITV News' Ben Chapman is at the inquest.

Lexi Branson's mother 'not warned over bulldog'

Willow Tree Rehoming Centre in Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire Credit: PA Wire

By Ben Chapman, ITV News Correspondent

The mother of a four-year-old girl mauled to death by the family bulldog was not told the animal was aggressive by the rehoming centre, an inquest has heard.

Jodi Hudson told the hearing an advert at the Willow Tree Rehoming Centre in Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire, said the Aylestone bulldog was not suitable to be around young children but staff told her that was due to its size rather than because it was aggressive.

She said no one from the centre visited her home in Mountsorrell, Leicestershire, before she collected the dog.

But Ms Hudson told the inquest there was "no sign of aggression" from the animal in the weeks leading up to the attack.

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