UK
18/10/2013 08:03 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Jade Anderson Death: Dog Owner Beverley Concannon Walks Free Over Animal Cruelty Charges

A copy of the order of service from the funeral of Jade Anderson, at St Clements Church, Chorlton, Manchester.
PA
A copy of the order of service from the funeral of Jade Anderson, at St Clements Church, Chorlton, Manchester.

The family of Jade Lomas-Anderson have expressed their disgust after the owner of four dogs that savaged the 14-year-old to death was able to walk free.

Beverley Concannon kept one of her dogs, a big American bull mastiff, in a tiny cage where it went "stir crazy" along with two other Staffordshire bull terriers and and another bull mastiff which were all kept cooped up in her council house.

The conditions led to them becoming stressed and "hyper aggressive" and they turned on and savaged to death Jade Lomas-Anderson at the house in Atherton, Greater Manchester on March 26.

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Jade's mother Shirley was not in court but other family members were, including her stepfather Michael, who said he was disgusted with the sentence.

"I'm devastated and disgusted in the justice system. Today was just about dangerous dogs. I think she should be held responsible for Jade.

"We have got a life sentence. It has absolutely ripped us apart."

Jade, who was on half-term school holidays and had stayed the night with Concannon's daughter at the house, suffered "horrific" injuries "from head to toe", Wigan Magistrates' Court heard.

Pc Martin Burkinshaw, who was first on the scene after the 999 call, said: "I will never forget what I saw."

Mother-of-one Concannon, 45, who had been warned before about her aggressive dogs and how she kept them, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to bull mastiffs Buddy and Neo and Staffordshire bull terriers Ty and Sky between July 19 last year and March 25 this year, in that she subjected the animals to "an environment that was detrimental to their well-being".

She sat head down in the dock throughout the hearing just yards from Jade's family, who broke into tears as the court heard distressing details of the incident.

But they marched out of court in unison as Concannon was told she would not be going to jail immediately.

The defendant, who is on benefits, was given a 16 week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge totalling £165. She was also banned from keeping dogs indefinitely.

The Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to bring a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence against Concannon.

It also said it could not bring any charges under the Dangerous Dogs Act because the four dogs were not banned breeds and were not out of control in a public place; the attack took place in her home.

Paul Taylor, prosecuting, read a statement from Pc Burkinshaw, who found Jade dead in the kitchen of the house with the dogs in the yard and the kitchen door open and banging against the door jam.

"There was a large white bull mastiff type dog in the yard," the statement read.

"Its head and mouth were covered in blood and it was bounding around the yard.

"I have not dealt with anything as distressing as this incident in my career and my heart goes out to this girl and her family."

Mr Taylor said the way the dogs had been kept led to the tragedy.

Concannon called the most aggressive dog Buddy her "baby" - though it was kept "crated" nearly all the time in a cage not big enough for it to raise its head or turn around properly.

The other mastiff lived in the yard and the pit bulls were confined to the kitchen.

The dogs were not walked despite there being a park two minutes from the house, the court heard.

Mr Taylor said the effect on the dogs of such treatment was "predictable".

A report by canine behaviour expert Annette Conn concluded all four dogs suffered chronic frustration, and physical and mental distress. It described Buddy as "stir crazy".

Mr Taylor said: "Without exercise and stimulation dogs are likely to become hyper-aggressive. The defendant knows this and this is what happened with fatal consequences for Jade."