Man charged after woman, 85, killed in ‘horrific’ dog attack in back garden
A man has been charged after an elderly woman was killed in a “horrific” dog attack.
Lucille Downer was attacked in April 2021 in Rowley Regis, West Midlands, set upon in her own garden by two American bulldogs. The 85 year-old died of her injuries at the scene.
Nearly two years later Darren Pritchard, 44, has now been charged with being the owner or person in charge of two dogs dangerously out of control causing injury resulting in death, police said on Monday. He is due to appear in court on Tuesday.
West Midlands Police said at the time that Ms Downer suffered multiple injuries in the “sustained” attack after the dogs escaped from a neighbouring property through a hole in a fence, with her family saying in a statement that they would “miss her dearly”.
Ms Downer was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. During her working years, she spent time as a cook at Bromford House Care Home in West Bromwich, having moved to the UK from Jamaica in her early 20s.
“Lucille Downer, aged 85, died following injuries sustained from these dogs in her rear garden in Boundary Avenue in Rowley Regis on Friday 2 April 2021”, a spokesperson from West Midlands Police said.
“Although a family member and neighbours rushed to her aid, she was sadly confirmed dead at the scene soon afterwards.
“Darren Pritchard aged 44 from Merrivale Road, Smethwick, will appear before Dudley magistrates on 21 March. He has also been charged with possession with intent to supply and production of cannabis.
“The ownership of two dogs was voluntarily transferred to police at the time of the incident. Following specialist advice it was established the dogs could never be rehomed due to the violent act and they were humanely destroyed.
“Lucille’s family have been informed of the latest development.”
In February 2023, four-year-old Alice Stones was also killed after she was attacked by a dog in her back garden. The pet – which belonged to the family - was “humanely destroyed” at the scene.
Under UK law, owners of dogs that kill someone in an attack can face jail for up to 14 years, an unlimited fine or both. The owners of dogs that injure someone can face up to five years in prison, a fine or both.
The penalty for owning a dog deemed to be “dangerously out of control” can also result in an unlimited fine, a jail sentence of up to six months or both.