Tragedy as baby boy mauled to death when parents left him alone with family dog

A newborn baby boy was savaged to death by a family dog who may have thought the child was "small prey or a squeaky toy," after the pair left unsupervised when his mother dozed off, despite warnings from social services.

Reuben McNulty was just 14-days-old when his parents' pet Staffordshire Bull Terrier bit his head up to 23 times, resulting in his death three weeks later.

Parents Amy Litchfield and Dan McNulty had been previously warned by social workers not to leave Reuben alone with their two Staffies.

But Amy, 31, was in a deep slumber next to Reuben, who also slept in a teddy bear bed on the sofa, and Dan had gone outside for a cigarette when the tot was savaged by one of the dogs at the family home in Yaxley, Cambs.

An inquest today heard that neither Reuben nor the dogs were being directly supervised at the time of the attack just before 2am on November 18, 2018.

Neither of the child's parents attended the hearing today.

The coroner heard that Dan returned inside to find Reuben and the white dog – called Dottie and aged around six – covered in blood, while Amy was still asleep.

Dan immediately called 999, telling the operator: "I think the f****** dog's attacked him. My partner was asleep, I just heard crying.

"He's just bleeding, you know? I was like what the f***?"

When paramedics arrived, Daniel and Amy refused to hold Reuben, the inquest heard.

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The baby was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where he was found to have suffered severe brain, spinal and skull injuries.

Reuben died at the same hospital on December 13 – three days after life support was removed.

Simon Newbury, a veterinary forensics expert, said that the dog may have bitten Reuben up to 23 times in the head while shaking him around.

Mr Newbury told the inquest at Peterborough Town Hall: "It's possible that Dottie saw Reuben as a small prey or a squeaky toy.

"It's possible that Dottie was stimulated into a predatory drive by crying or a movement [by Reuben].

"There appears to have been no supervision of the dogs. Amy was in a deep sleep, Daniel was downstairs smoking."

Dan and Amy were both arrested by police on suspicion of child neglect after the incident but prosecutors decided not to charge them in December 2020.

A child protection plan was issued by social services before Reuben's birth stating that he should never be left alone with Dottie and the other dog, a nine-year-old Staffy called Fizz.

Amy had owned the dogs since their birth and there were no past reports of violence or aggression from them.

Both dogs were seized by police and put down after the incident.

Speaking after the inquest today, Reuben's nan Ruth Hinchey spoke of her relief at finding a conclusion to the family's ordeal.

Ruth, Amy's mother, said: "We're just glad it's finished and we can properly move on."

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