Woman jailed after major dog attack in park

Claire Neal.
Claire Neal.

A woman has been sent to prison after her dog bit 12 children in a Blyth park.

The incident happened at about 6.30pm on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, at the facility in Burns Avenue.

Claire Neal, 38, of Chasedale Crescent, Cowpen, was sentenced to four years in jail at Newcastle Crown Court earlier today.

After a trial was aborted part way through, she changed her plea to guilty shortly before a second trial commenced.

She had previously denied owning a dog that was dangerously out-of-control, claiming the animal belonged to the courts as there was a destruction order in place on it after two previous attacks on children.

The Staffordshire terrier got into the park and bit the children playing there – 12 youngsters were taken to hospital for treatment for puncture wounds and three of them were kept in hospital overnight for treatment.

The dog was seized by police after the attack and was initially kept in secured kennels. Following an investigation, it was subsequently destroyed.

Following the sentencing, PC Craig Arkley from Northumbria Police said: “This was an extremely frightening incident for the children who were injured when the dog ran amok in a Blyth park last year.

“This has been very upsetting for the large number of families involved in this incident and the wider Blyth community, who were also concerned about what had happened.

“Perhaps most upsetting of all is the knowledge that this could have been avoided if the dog had been properly restrained and not allowed to get into the park area where children were playing.

“Parents quite rightly expect their children to be safe from harm when playing together in a park and do not expect to see them hurt and frightened by an out-of-control dog.

“The court has recognised the serious harm done to the children and families and we are pleased by the sentence handed down.

“I hope it will remind all dog owners to make sure their pets are appropriately looked after and not put in a position where they can harm others.”