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Mother and son sentenced after woman dies following dog attack

|News, Violent crime

A mother and son have been sentenced after their Rottweiler dogs attacked a woman who’d tried to stroke them and later died.

Rachel Walshe, 69, and her son Brian Walshe, 42, were walking their dogs on Park Lane West in Netherton in Liverpool on 18 August 2023, at about 5.45pm.

Rachel was walking her dog, Frankie and Brian was holding the lead of his dog, Rocky when they were approached by Marie Stevens, 40.

Mrs Stevens was seen by witnesses putting down her shopping bag and putting her arm out to stroke the dogs. Frankie then bit the lower part of Mrs Stevens’ arm and dragged her to the ground. The dog wouldn’t let go.

The witnesses tried to get out of the way and called the police. Brian Walshe was trying to restrain the dogs, but both had now started to attack Mrs Stevens.

One witness said the dogs appeared to be out of control and were attacking anyone who was near them, including their owners.

Brian managed to regain control of the dogs and Rachel stayed with Mrs Stevens who was now on the ground. Brian was heard to shout to her “Get up will you, there’s nothing wrong with you.”

Mrs Stevens got to her feet and staggered away, but then collapsed on a nearby grass verge. She was bleeding and screaming with pain.

She was taken to Aintree Hospital where she was treated for injuries all over her body. She remained in hospital until 1 September when she was allowed home.

She appeared to be recovering and making progress, but, two days later, her husband found her dead in the kitchen. A blood clot in her leg had travelled to her lungs and caused her death.

The doctor who carried out the postmortem said, “There is a direct causation of the death of Marie Stevens and the dog attack which occurred approximately 2 weeks prior to her death.”

Rachel and Brian Walshe were arrested and charged with being the owners of dogs which caused injury while dangerously out of control in a public place.

Mrs Walshe pleaded guilty at a hearing at Liverpool Magistrates Court on 31 January 2024. Brian Walshe pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court on 3 May 2024.

Today (23 May 2024) at Liverpool Crown Court, they were given a ten-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months. They must also do 20 days each of a rehabilitation activity. An order was imposed for both of the dogs to be destroyed. Rachel Walshe has been disqualified from owning a dog for an indefinite period and Brian Walshe has been disqualified from owning a dog for five years.

Victim Personal Statements were read to the court from Marie Stevens’ husband, family and best friend.

Her husband said: “Marie loved animals especially dogs, our dog Max died a year ago and I know that's why she would have wanted to say hello to them dogs. That's what makes the way she died even harder to come to terms with.

“Marie and I were together for 20 years. The day she died my life disappeared in a second. Everything I knew and loved gone. I can still see her lying on the floor in our home. I knew immediately she was gone, I could tell by the colour of her skin. Now that's all I see. No matter what I'm doing or where I am that vision is always there. I can't get it out of my head.”

Senior Crown Prosecutor Elizabeth Pearson said: “This is an incredibly sad case. Marie Stevens, an animal lover who adored dogs, died as a result of trying to stroke them.

“Brian and Rachel Walshe clearly did not intend for this tragedy to happen but they admitted that neither of their dogs had been to dog training classes or any professional behaviour training and that neither wears a muzzle in public.

“Yet, on that day they were dangerously out of control and their owners could not regain control of them for some time. In the meantime, the dogs savaged Marie Stevens – injuries that she never fully recovered from.

“Her subsequent death has brought tragedy to her family and devastation. The Crown Prosecution Service would like to thank the family of Mrs Stevens for their help in bringing this prosecution and the witnesses.

“It’s hoped this dreadful case will remind all dog owners that it is essential that their dogs are trained to behave safely in public and that they are under control at all times. If this isn’t the case, the results can be catastrophic."

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