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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 20:08 GMT
Family devastated by girl's death
Ellie Lawrenson
Ellie was found bleeding to death in the living room

The family of a five-year-old girl killed by her uncle's dog say they are "absolutely devastated" by her death.

Ellie Lawrenson died of severe head and neck injuries after being mauled at her grandmother's house in St Helens.

Ellie's family, who described her as "little angel", laid flowers outside the house on Tuesday night.

Post-mortem tests showed the dog was a pit bull terrier-type breed, prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act. Two previous complaints had been made about the pet.

Supt Jon Ward, of Merseyside Police, said: "An assessment has been made by a recognised expert on the Dangerous Dogs Act, from the Metropolitan Police, and he has confirmed that the dog was a pit bull terrier type."

The girl's family issued a statement in which they said: "Ellie was always happy and smiling.

Ellie Lawrenson's family leave flowers outside the house where she died
We are absolutely devastated and can't believe she is gone
Ellie Lawrenson's family

"She was a little angel, full of life and always running around.

"We had a great Christmas together, with her little brother, Josh, who Ellie doted on and thought she was a second mother to.

"We are absolutely devastated and can't believe she is gone."

Police found Ellie in the living room of the property in Knowles House Avenue, Eccleston, shortly before 0430 GMT on Monday.

Ellie's grandmother, Jackie Simpson, 45, had managed to lock the dog outside but suffered injuries to tendons in her arm, and wounds to her thumb and elbow.

She was taken to Whiston Hospital and underwent emergency surgery but is now said to be in a stable condition.

Police have yet to speak to her about what happened.

The 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act imposed conditions on the ownership of four types of dog.

Lord Baker, who introduced the act when he was Home Secretary, said it was intended to get rid of pit bull terriers from the UK.

Pitbull terrier

He said: "That sort of dog should not be available to be owned in the UK and that was the purpose of the Act."

He also called for other breeds, including Alsatians, to be registered and muzzled in public.

It has emerged that the dog's owner, Ellie's uncle, was warned by St Helens Council last June about the animal's behaviour after it attacked another dog.

A second letter was sent after the council received a complaint about the dog's barking.

Several neighbours claimed the dog had violent tendencies and one man, who did not want to be named, said he had been attacked by the animal.

The dog was shot dead by a police marksman at the house.

Police said Ellie had been staying with her grandmother after her parents had been out to celebrate New Year's Eve.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
A family's experience of a pit bull attack



SEE ALSO
Inquiry into killer dog's history
02 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
Girl killed by pit bull terrier
01 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
Baby dies after Rottweiler attack
24 Sep 06 |  Leicestershire
Boy aged four savaged by bulldog
16 Aug 06 |  Cambridgeshire
New Dangerous Dogs
05 Jun 06 |  Law in Action

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