Family of great-grandmother killed in dog attack will ‘miss her dearly’

Josh Payne
·3-min read

The family of a great-grandmother who was killed in a sustained attack by two dogs in her garden have said they will “miss her dearly”.

Lucille Downer, 85, suffered multiple injuries in the “horrific” incident on Friday afternoon on Boundary Avenue in Rowley Regis, West Midlands Police said.

The owner of the two dogs, a 43-year-old man, was arrested on suspicion of being the person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control, causing death.

Fatal dog attack in Rowley Regis
Flowers outside the house on Boundary Avenue in Rowley Regis (Jacob King/PA)

He has been released on conditional bail pending further inquiries.

Police said the animals had escaped a neighbouring property through a hole in the fence before the attack.

In a statement, Ms Downer’s family said: “Lucille was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who spent her working years as a cook at Bromford House Care Home in West Bromwich.

“Lucille was born in Jamaica and emigrated to the UK in her early 20s. Since arriving in the UK, Rowley Regis has always been her home and her family will miss her dearly.”

Fatal dog attack in Rowley Regis
A woman puts flowers down outside the house on Boundary Avenue in Rowley Regis (Jacob King/PA)

Shortly after the arrival of police at the scene, the animals were tranquilised and taken to a nearby kennels where they are being tested to determine their breed.

On Saturday morning, floral tributes were left on the victim’s drive, with one displaying the message “RIP Nan”.

The property remains sealed off and a large police van was parked outside the house.

Speaking at a press conference outside West Bromwich Police Station on Saturday, Superintendent Phil Asquith said: “Neighbours called to report that a woman, 85 years of age, was under attack from dogs from a neighbouring property.

“Our officers attended, by which point the dogs had returned through a hole in the fence to the adjacent property and then, unfortunately, despite the best efforts of medical professionals, that lady died at the scene.

“An operation was then under way to secure the dogs. They were tranquilised and transported subsequently to secure kennels where they currently remain and they are being tested to determine their breed.”

Police said Ms Downer suffered dog bite injuries and a post-mortem examination will take place in due course.

“Fortunately, these types of incidents are rare. This presented no wider threat to the public. It was a hole in adjacent premises so they weren’t running in the streets.

“It was contained and the male who owned those dogs was arrested yesterday. He has subsequently been bailed for further inquiries whilst we undertake a forensic post-mortem to determine the cause of death and to determine the breed of the dogs involved.”

Fatal dog attack in Rowley Regis
One bouquet displayed the message ‘RIP Nan’ (Jacob King/PA)

Asked what injuries the victim had suffered in the incident, Superintendent Asquith said: “The dogs will have unfortunately carried out a fairly sustained attack so there were multiple injuries, mainly caused as a result of the delay in getting into the garden.

“But the specifics of the injuries I can’t go into.”

Speaking about the breed of the dogs, Superintendent Asquith said: “They were two large dogs but we cannot speculate.

“The DNA samples have to be taken to determine the specific breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act (to see if) they are specific breeds that are banned – and I can’t speculate as to whether or not they are banned dogs.”

Superintendent Asquith said neighbours responded “very quickly” to the pensioner being attacked, and family members were able to access the garden quickly as they lived nearby.

He added: “Fortunately, the actual owner returned home and was able to get the dogs back into their area at the adjacent premises.”

Police have urged anyone with information about the incident to come forward.