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GRAN 'ON DRUGS' WHEN PIT BULL MAULED ELLIE; She broke family rule and let killer dog into house.

Byline: By TOM LATCHEM

A CRAZED dog that mauled a girl to death was let in by her granny who had been taking drugs and drinking, a court heard yesterday.

Jacqueline Simpson, 45, had smoked cannabis and drunk wine when she broke a "clear family rule" and allowed the hulking pit bull terrier into the house, it was claimed.

Moments later, vicious Reuben locked his jaws round five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson's neck and shook her ferociously around the living room. The child screamed for her granny before falling silent.

She died in the early hours of New Year's Day before paramedics could reach her, suffering 72 injuries including 36 wounds to her head and neck.

It had been decided not to let Reuben into the house in St Helens, Merseyside, at the same time as Ellie after two previous attacks.

A month before the pit bull killed the little girl, he savaged Simpson's daughter, Kelsey, 20, the jury heard.

Prosecutor Neil Flewitt said: "According to Kelsey, she saw something in Reuben's eyes that she had never seen before. They were bulging, red and horrible. He sank his teeth into her right leg just above the knee and tried to shake her."

Months earlier, Reuben had attacked a Jack Russell but the owner beat the dog off with his walking stick. At the time of the attack on Ellie, Simpson allegedly told police she was taking antidepressants.

Mr Flewitt told the jury: "You will have to consider whether the combination of the prescribed medication, cannabis and alcohol had any effect upon the defendant's actions that night."

Simpson, who was looking after Ellie while her parents celebrated New Year, told police that she let Reuben in because he "looked scared" and was crying. After the dog, who at 5st 4lb weighed twice as much as Ellie, went berserk, Simpson was bitten trying to haul him off her granddaughter.

She had told the ambulance crew that Reuben "just went at Ellie" as she sat on her knee. But she later claimed in a police interview that a firework exploded making the animal snap, Liverpool crown court heard.

Mr Flewitt added: "She said nothing to the paramedic about a firework going off."

The dog was bought by Simpson's son, Kiel, 24, as a puppy. But the dog soon grew into a vicious monster.

Mr Flewitt said: "There is no doubt the defendant loved Ellie dearly and has herself suffered considerably as a result of the tragic events.

"But by allowing Kiel Simpson to keep a dangerous dog and by allowing it into the house, the defendant let down Ellie and her parents."

Jacqueline Simpson denies manslaughter by gross negligence. The trial continues.

Reuben was put down soon after Ellie's death. Kiel Simpson pleaded guilty in April to owning a banned dog.

'She saw something in the dog's eyes t hat she had never seen before.. they were bulging, red and horrible'

- Neil Flewitt QC on an EARLIER attack by dog that killed Ellie

tom.latchem@mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

SAVAGED: Ellie, five, died in attack by pit bull; OWNER: Kiel bought Reuben; GRAN: Simpson at court yesterday; BANNED: Pit bull terrier
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 4, 2007
Words:527
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