Mum screamed 'an XL bully has got my boy' as dog tore off son's scalp

Amanda Young
Amanda Young -Credit:Merseyside Police

A mum screamed "an XL bully has got my boy" as the dog sunk its teeth into her eight-year-old's head.

The youngster had been visiting a friend who he wanted to play football with when he was attacked by the dog, owned by mother and son Amanda and Lewis Young. The dog, Snoop, had been allowed to roam free without a harness and unmuzzled in the communal area of a block of flats.

The schoolboy screamed "help me, help" as he had his scalp ripped off, leaving his mum fearing he was going to die.

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Liverpool Crown Court heard this afternoon, Monday, the boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was subjected to a "vicious and sustained attack" at the apartment complex on Wadham Road in Bootle in the late afternoon of February 10 this year. Snoop was said to have "had substantial characteristics of an XL bully type" and was "therefore a banned breed".

Charlotte Kenny, prosecuting, outlined how 30-year-old Lewis Young was the owner, while his 49-year-old mum Amanda had been left in charge while he attended work as a self-employed delivery driver. Merseyside Police began to receive 999 calls concerning the attack at around 5pm.

Officers attending the scene found members of the public had managed to intervene and restrain the dog. One resident, Anthony Atkinson, described hearing screaming outside his address and opened his balcony doors to hear a woman shouting: "An XL bully has got my boy."

He found another man attempting to pull Snoop off the child before also assisting himself. The witness recalled seeing Amanda Young "being present throughout on her phone" and said she did "not help the situation".

Mr Atkinson added he "recognised the dog as it had been roaming around the courtyard all day without a leash" and had been "jumping up" at him and other residents. Another man, Callum Smith, stated he had heard the boy shouting "help me, help me" and described Snoop as "frothing at the mouth".

Lewis Young then arrived home with a harness, having received a call from his co-defendant, after which he led the dog towards towards attendant PCs. He told officers he had owned Snoop for around two to three months after responding to an advertisement he had seen posted on Facebook.

Young also said he was "not sure" if he was an XL bully and had not applied to have him registered as per new legislation introduced at the turn of the year. When interviewed, he told detectives he had been planning to have a DNA test in order to establish whether Snoop - who has since been destroyed - was an XL bully, but did not have the money to do so and believed he may have been an American bulldog.

The dog was previously said to have had a cloth muzzle and collar, but had eaten both. Young added his mum was a cocaine user and "was probably under the influence of it" at the time of the attack, and said he had "no idea the dog was capable of causing serious injury".

Lewis Young
Lewis Young -Credit:Merseyside Police

Amanda Young was meanwhile described as "acting strangely" by officers and "began crying hysterically" in the aftermath, while she also reportedly attempted to jump from her balcony in an "attempt at self harm". She was also said to have smelled of alcohol and "appeared to be under the influence of alcohol".

Under interview, she told detectives her son had acquired the dog around October 2023 after it had been rehomed due to the previous owner having a new born child and thought Snoop may have been a boxer breed. Young said she had consumed three to four gins during the course of the afternoon and reported that these drinks were "possibly doubles", although she "did not believe she was intoxicated".

She also stated the dog had "never shown any signs of aggression". She reported she had "blacked out" at one stage during the incident.

The victim was taken to Alder Hey Children's Hospital, having sustained "extensive injuries" to his face and hands. This included a "degloving" of the scalp and a fracture to the skull, where it had been penetrated by one of the dog's teeth.

He has since undergone several surgeries, including an initial 10 hours on the operating table as doctors unsuccessfully attempted to reattach his scalp, and spent more than two months in hospital as an inpatient while undergoing skin grafts before being discharged in late April. The boy still attends appointments twice a week in order to reapply his bandages, and will be left with permanent scarring.

In a statement read to the court on her behalf, his mum said: "He suffered terrible, horrific injuries which will likely affect him for the rest of his life. It was heart breaking to see him in this way, unable to move and battered and bruised everywhere.

"At times, I was scared that he was not going to make it and that he would die. He was starting to become very withdrawn.

"He stopped eating and drinking and started to get depressed. Since he has come home, he had started to look a little better.

"We have told him that he won't be able to return to school for several months. He used to love school. He's missing his school friends and playing football. He is petrified when he sees any dog and will grab his dad's hand or my hand.

"It will be a long road to recovery. We have no idea how many operations he will need."

Lewis Young has one previous conviction for possession of class A drugs with intent to supply in 2014. Daniel Travers, appearing on his behalf, said: "Lewis Young is devastated that his dog caused such serious injuries.

"He cannot imagine how dreadful this is, and he will forever regret what happened. He knows he and his mother were completely to blame for what happened.

"He regrets leaving his mother in charge of the dog. Lewis Young was intending this dog to be a family pet."

At this, the Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary KC said: "Which is a horrifying thought."

Mr Travers continued: "Lewis Young recognises through me that it could have been any child or person, and that includes his own young daughter - who spent a lot of time what that dog. He has come to court today expecting punishment.

"There is no history of this dog having any previous aggression towards anyone else. I accept that he did not do what he could have done, but he planned on doing so and had good intentions."

Amanda Young has no previous convictions. Martine Snowdon, defending, told the court: "She made a decision entirely wrongly because she had no prior warning of the dog that caused her concern.

"That is why she did not take the necessary steps. She is a woman who has had mental health difficulties, stemming as far back as her childhood. Despite that, she had worked hard in relatively low paid employment in various different jobs to support her two boys as they grew up. She managed that successfully.

"With that background, she has achieved a life. She has given regular community worth with a youth club, something she felt was giving back.

"From the moment this happened, she has been devastated and genuinely and profoundly wishes it had been her and not him and wishes that there was something she could do to change it and feels like a prison sentence is not enough. She comes today having packed up her home in a suitcase hoping that punishment can in some way make it better, but of course it cannot."

Amanda Young
Amanda Young -Credit:Merseyside Police

Lewis Young admitted being the owner of a dog which caused injury while out of control in a public place. He was jailed for two years.

Amanda Young pleaded guilty to being in charge of a dog which caused injury while out of control in a public place. She was locked up for 20 months.

Both were banned from owning dogs for life. Sentencing, Judge Menary said: "The circumstances of the attack are truly awful. The nature of the injuries caused to the young victim were catastrophic and, on any view, life changing.

"The events of that day will no doubt haunt the memories of everyone who witnessed the savage and sustained attack by the dog you had decided to keep as a pet."

Turning to Lewis Young, the judge added: "You really knew nothing about the dog before you took ownership of it. Despite lots of publicity at the time about concerns over attacks by XL bully type dogs and the ban on new ownership of such dogs, you did nothing to check the breed of the dog.

"You, Amanda Young, agreed to look after the dog even though you were wholly incapable of looking after or controlling this animal. The evidence is that the dog had free reign to roam the public parts of the block.

"This little boy has had multiple surgeries. He will be left with extensive facial and head scarring and profound psychological trauma. The injuries are just dreadful."

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