Page last updated at 20:16 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 21:16 UK

Mauled boy's uncle pleads guilty over Wavertree death

Christian Foulkes
Christian Foulkes will be sentenced next month

The uncle of a four-year-old boy who was mauled to death by a pit-bull in Liverpool has admitted breeding and owning a dangerous dog.

Christian Foulkes, 21, of Ash Grove, Wavertree, pleaded guilty to three counts under the Dangerous Dogs Act at Liverpool Magistrates' Court.

John Paul Massey suffered fatal injuries when he was savaged by the family pet in Wavertree last November.

The judge warned Foulkes faced jail for his "extremely serious" convictions.

Foulkes was released on unconditional bail and will be sentenced on 1 June.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing a dangerous dog and one count of breeding a dangerous dog.

A further count of giving a dangerous dog as a gift was withdrawn by the prosecution.

'Dog pounced'

John Paul was savaged by the pet, called Uno, while he was being looked after by his grandmother at her home in Ash Grove, Wavertree, in the early hours of 30 November.

Joanne Parsons, prosecuting, said the boy had woken up at around midnight and said he was hungry so his grandmother, Helen Foulkes, went to get him a packet of crisps.

Ms Parsons said: "By the time she returned John Paul was already back asleep so she opened the crisps to give them to the dog.

John Paul Massey
John Paul was staying at his grandmother's house

"As she did, Uno pounced at John Paul. She tried to force the dog off her grandson and was attacked herself as a result."

Ms Parsons described Uno as a powerful dog and said police had to distract the animal before paramedics were able to enter the house and treat them.

Despite their efforts to save him, John Paul died shortly after the attack. The dog was killed by police marksmen, who shot it twice in the garden.

Tests showed that the animal was a pit-bull, a breed banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Ms Parsons said Foulkes was "utterly devastated" by the death of his nephew.

He was supported in court by his sister and John Paul's mother, Angela McGlynn.


Mr Foulkes maintains the dogs were kept as family pets and not bred for fighting or commercial gain
Joanne Parsons, prosecuting

Ms McGlynn passed a letter to the court asking the judge to consider her unwavering support for Mr Foulkes.

Speaking out of court she said: "I just don't see why the blame should land on Christian's feet when I left my child in the house with the dog because I trusted it, that's how much I trusted it, and he did.

"It's heartbreaking, just seeing him standing there in the dock, he's had to leave the army and everything and it's all just because it was his dog."

She added: "He's gonna live with the guilt because it was his dog. Everyone's got their own bit of guilt, mine is why did I go out that night when I don't normally go out?"

Ms McGlynn said the family believed the dog was an American bulldog, and did not think it was a banned dog.

"We didn't know it had the pit bull gene, it didn't even enter our heads that it had the mixed genes in it, if there was any thought that there was any danger then John Paul wouldn't have been there," she said.

Pit-bull bitch

In court, Mark Ellis, defending, said Foulkes wanted to thank the police and the CPS for their "sensitive" handling of the case.

The 21-year-old had recently joined the Army and was away training when the dog attacked his nephew.

Foulkes also admitted owning a pit-bull bitch, named Lita, which was being looked after by John Paul's father.

Angela McGlynn
John Paul's mother says the family did not know the dog was a banned breed

The dog was pregnant with 11 pups, sired by Uno, when she died after being knocked down by a car shortly after John Paul was killed.

Ms Parsons told the court it was not Lita's first litter of puppies but added: "Mr Foulkes maintains the dogs were kept as family pets and not bred for fighting or commercial gain.

"There is no evidence on either dog of their use for fighting."

A third dog, named Lucky, had also been kept by Foulkes but was killed by the other two dogs, the prosecutor said.

Following John Paul's death, it emerged that Merseyside Police did not take action after receiving an earlier report of dog breeding taking place at Mrs Foulkes' home.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is currently investigating the force.

Christian Foulkes was originally arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but was not charged with the offence.

He wrote a message to his nephew at the funeral which read: "If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane we would walk right up to heaven and bring you back again."



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SEE ALSO
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