1. National

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.

View all 17 updates ›

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.

More top news