Great-grandmother mauled to death by escaped dogs will be ‘dearly missed’, family say

Relatives of an 85-year-old great-grandmother mauled to death by “two large dogs” that slipped through a garden fence hole have said she will be “dearly missed”.

Lucille Downer suffered multiple serious injuries after the dogs escaped from a neighbouring property and attacked her at her home in Rowley Regis, Birmingham. 

In a statement her family said “Lucille was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother” who had worked as a cook at a care home in West Bromwich.

They said she was born in Jamaica and moved to the UK in the late 1950’s, adding that “her family will miss her dearly.”

Neighbours rushed to her aid after hearing the attack on Friday afternoon. When police and paramedics arrived they were unable to revive her. 

DNA tests are now being carried out on the dogs, described as pit bulls, to try to establish whether they are a proscribed breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

A 43-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of being a “person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control”. He has been released on bail.

The animals were understood to have escaped from a neighbouring garden through a hole in a panel in the fence.

Superintendent Phil Asquith said when officers arrived the animals had returned to the adjacent property, but “despite the best efforts of medical professionals and ourselves the lady died.”

Flowers left at the scene in Rowley Regis, West Midlands

Flowers left at the scene in Rowley Regis, West Midlands

Credit: Jacob King /PA

The dogs were shot with a tranquiliser gun before being transported to kennels where tests will be carried out. 

He added it was not possible to say whether there had been previous complaints about the dogs. 

Distraught residents have placed flowers outside the home of the woman, known as “nan” to many in the area. 

One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said the grandmother was known to be frail. 

He added: “I’ve been told that the man who’s been arrested had been working and he’d come home and let the dogs out. 

“Obviously yesterday was a lovely day so he let them out. 

“Her neighbour said they had just had a new fence put in as well and the dogs managed to destroy a panel at the back of the shed and got into her garden and they never left. 

Another neighbour, who also did not want to be named, said the dogs’ behaviour was “out of character” 

One resident, who lay a bunch of flowers but wanted to remain anonymous, said: “I used to call her ‘nan’, she was just such a lovely lady.

“She was so funny and kind, charismatic and would make you laugh. I feel so sad about what’s happened. She was an absolute character.

“You want someone that old to go peacefully not like that. The dogs escaped through a broken fence panel into her garden from next door. I didn’t even know the next door neighbours had dogs.”

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