Caerphilly dog attack: Tributes paid to 'family matriarch' killed by XL Bully cross

Shirley Patrick, 83, was mauled by a dog at an address in the Caerphilly borough on December 3. Credit: Media Wales

The family of a pensioner who died after being attacked by a dog has said they have lost their "matriarch".

Shirley Patrick, 83, was mauled at an address in Heol Fawr, Penyrheol, in Caerphilly borough, on December 3.

The great-great-grandmother, who had dementia, suffered significant injuries during the incident and died in hospital on December 20. A fundraiser has been set up to get a horse-drawn carriage for Shirley's funeral on February 6.

Daughter Gail Jones said the family have lost their "matriarch". Credit: Media Wales

"Her wish had always been that when she got married, she would have a white wedding and a carriage like a princess... but her dream really wasn't fulfilled because of her parents' wishes," her daughter Gail Jones, 63, told WalesOnline. Now it is hoped the money raised will help to fulfil Shirley's wishes on what would have been her 84th birthday.

After the incident in December four people were arrested on suspicion of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury and have been released under conditional bail. The dog - a large, black XL Bully cross Cane Corso breed - was seized by officers and has been destroyed.

The attack happened almost exactly a year after schoolboy Jack Lis was fatally savaged by an XL Bully at a house in Pentwyn in Penyrheol - just a few streets away from where Shirley was injured. Gail said she believes "something needs to be changed in the law" with aggressive dogs and has called for them to be muzzled when outdoors and around vulnerable people.

Gail remembers her mother as a "very friendly person", who "knew everybody" and was well-known in the area. Credit: Media Wales

Admitting she is "numb" following her mother's death, Gail said: "Emotionally, I've cried at silly little things, like music that reminds me of Mam, or something like that, but I don't think it's actually hit me properly yet."

A lifelong resident of Caerphilly, Shirley was born in 1939 in Abertridwr and was one of five children. She met her future husband, Dennis, when she was 14 and he was 15.

"They were both true to each other all of their lives. It was really a love marriage," said Gail. Shirley worked as a sewing machinist when she first left school, and then started training as a nurse, but didn't complete it.

Shirley was married to Dennis after the pair met as teens. Credit: Media Wales

Instead, she supported her husband in his career as a professional singer. "She'd had a wonderful life going round the clubs with Dad...she went everywhere with him. She loved to later years, she enjoyed bingo with her sisters," said Gail.

Gail remembers her mother as a "very friendly person", who "knew everybody" and was well-known in the area. "She had a really good life, really - a good social life... She and my dad did an awful lot of work for charity."

Shirley lived in the same house in Caerphilly for 60 years - and was the first person to move into her street, according to Gail. Sadly, in the 1990s, Shirley and her husband were involved in a car accident that killed Gail's uncle.

She said it also left her dad invalid and with substantial brain damage. "From that day onwards, I think that's when my mother started to get the early-onset dementia."

Dennis died from cancer in 2018. Gail added: "Mam by now had got really quite bad with the dementia." She went twice a week to a local hospital to attend a special group for people who had the disease, where she would play bingo, games and quizzes.

"Mam loved the music quiz and they said she'd always come first out of everybody that was there, because she knew so much," said Gail. She added that towards the end of her life, Shirley was "very humble and fragile" and enjoyed days out.

"She loved to go to places, like Roath Park and Castle Coch. Another place which she loved was St Fagans... The sad part was that she would forget, but she always enjoyed herself - she used to love it," said Gail.

Shirley's body will be cremated on her birthday, and her and her husband's ashes will be buried together on March 1 - their wedding anniversary. Asked how her tragic death had impacted the family, Gail said: "All I know is I don't feel the same as what I did when my father died. And I can't explain it. I really can't.

"Whether it was because I was prepared for my father to die, because I knew he was going to die of cancer, I don't know... but with Mam, it's been such a shock. But as soon as I saw my mother's chair, which I bought for her... I just broke down crying on that chair. That's one of the times I broke down.

"I'm just numb... I haven't had time to process and grieve. Because every single day, it's either the police have come in here, or I've got to go to the bank, or I've got to sort out the will... and then I've turned round and I've asked the police what happened, and they've said: 'We can't tell you because it's ongoing'.

"All I know is that something needs to be changed in the law with these dogs... Pitbulls are banned in this country and these American Bullies actually have Pitbull in them - they're bred that way, so they've got the same temperament as a Pitbull.

Gail admitted she is "numb" following her mother's death. Credit: Media Wales

She continued: "I think these type of dogs should be just used for the use that they're bred for - maybe guard dogs or something... And I'm not saying it's just [American Bullies], I think maybe any dogs which are bred for fighting should be either banned in Britain, or outside or anywhere, even in a house, where there are children, they should be muzzled."

The mum-of-three said she also wanted to clear up a rumour surrounding the circumstances of the attack. "One of the neighbours mentioned [to the press] that my son, Lee Grenfell, who was a dog walker, had gone to the property, taken the dog there, and the dog had attacked his grandmother and killed her.

"That wasn't true. Lee did live with my mother for about two or three years but he hadn't lived with my mother for over two years. So I want that retracted... he's traumatised because of it."

Gwent Police said those arrested - a 20-year-old man, 25-year-old man, 31-year-old man, and a 28-year-old woman, all from the Caerphilly area - remain on police bail and enquiries are ongoing.

Detective Chief Inspector Matthew Sedgebeer of Gwent Police said at the time of the death: “If you have concerns or any information regarding this dog and its previous behaviour then please do stop and talk with us. Alternatively, please call us on 101, quoting log reference 2200407170. You can also send us a direct message on Facebook or Twitter. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111."

Shirley Patrick is survived by her two children, seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. You can donate to the fundraiser for her funeral here.