Boy died after being mauled by dog, inquest hears

Frankie MacRitchie Credit: PA Media

A nine-year-old boy was mauled to death by a family friend’s dog after being left alone in a caravan with the animal, an inquest heard.

Frankie MacRitchie, from Plymouth, received fatal injuries after being attacked by the American bulldog cross Staffordshire bull terrier in April 2019.

Frankie had been staying in the caravan at Tencreek Holiday Park in Looe, Cornwall with his mother, Tawney Willis, and her friend Sadie Totterdell.

Cornwall Coroner’s Court heard Ms Totterdell had rented the caravan from April 7 for a holiday and was joined by Frankie and his mother on April 11.

The following day Ms Totterdell brought the dog, called Winston, to the caravan and that evening they all went out to the park’s social club before returning about midnight.

Frankie MacRitchie, left, died after being attacked by the dog Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police/PA

Ms Willis and Ms Totterdell joined friends in a neighbouring caravan where they continued drinking, leaving Frankie alone with Winston.

Friend Cheryl Crocker said Ms Willis left the caravan a couple of times to check on Frankie and the first she became aware of the incident was when she heard screaming.

“Tawney came running in screaming. Tawney kept screaming and screaming and she needed to find Frankie’s nan,” she said.

Her partner Jordan Pearce added: “We were all sat in our caravan when Tawney went out to check and I could hear something, so I turned the music down and didn’t hear anything.

“We put the music back on and heard a scream and she literally ran in through the door and that’s when we knew.”

Mr Pearce said after the attack, Ms Totterdell fled the caravan park, taking Winston with her.

“I remember Sadie coming towards our caravan and saying, ‘What do I do? I’m going to take him and kill him’,” he said.

“She tried getting the dog into our caravan and I remember kicking the dog out and saying the dog’s not coming in here, and that’s when she just disappeared, and no one knew where she went.”

The court heard the emergency services were alerted shortly before 5am on April 13, after Ms Willis returned to the caravan and found Frankie.

Emergency first responders and paramedics arrived and attempted resuscitation, but Frankie was declared dead at 5.35am.

Dr Deborah Cook, a Home Office registered forensic pathologist, said Frankie had died from blood loss caused by multiple dog bites.

“The wounds have the characteristics of dog bites in a mauling type of attack,” she said.

The court heard Ms Willis and Ms Totterdell were later prosecuted and jailed.

The inquest continues.