Baby's Death After Colchester Dog Attack An "Accident"

9 December 2016, 12:24 | Updated: 9 December 2016, 12:41

A four-month-old baby who was snatched from his mother's arms by the family dog in Colchester and savaged died as the result of an accident, an inquest concluded.

Mother-of-two Jade Rogers was with her two young sons when the Staffordshire bull terrier-type dog, called Bailey, entered the room and attacked, a hearing at Essex Coroner's Court in Chelmsford was told.

Baby Archie Joe Darby died after he was bitten by the animal at the house in Harwich Road, Colchester, on October 13.

Miss Rogers managed to save her other son Daniel-Jay, who was 22 months old at the time, and Essex coroner Eleanor McGann praised her for her "bravery'' in fighting off the aggressive animal.

Detective Inspector Gary Biddle, senior investigating officer, said the boys' mother barricaded the dog in the conservatory and had to hold the door shut to prevent it from continuing to attack her children.

He said: "She could not leave the door and let the ambulance service in.

"Fortunately police attended very quickly. They shouted through the letter box to understand why she couldn't get to the door and she shouted out why.

"We were left with no option but to force entry.

"They saw Archie lying on the floor face down with significant injuries and Daniel sitting on the sofa with significant head injuries in a very upset state.

"The children were removed to Colchester General Hospital.''

Archie was pronounced dead at 4.02pm.

Police called specialist dog handlers to remove the dog and it took several officers to achieve this.

"We had to use specialist equipment to do that because of his continued aggressive behaviour,'' said Mr Biddle. "It never stopped for the whole time until it was put to sleep.''

In a statement given to police, Miss Rogers said she was alone in the house with her two children at the time of the attack.

She had moved into the house, which belonged to her sister Clare Ferdinand and her sister's husband John Ferdinand, the week before, and Mr Ferdinand had left the address around an hour before the attack.

Mr Biddle said: "Jade was in the living room with her two children. She had Archie in her arms. She was on the phone to Dan [her partner]. They were 'facetiming' each other.''

He said the dog entered the living room while Miss Rogers was on the phone.

"It growled and immediately attacked Daniel,'' Mr Biddle said. "Jade went to get up and tried to move the dog out of the room.

"It went straight for Daniel's head, started biting and shaking his head while she had Archie in her arms.

"She tried to pull the dog off Daniel. It dropped Daniel and pulled Archie out of her arms.

"It then shook Archie around the room then dropped him.

"Jade said she knew instantly that Archie was dead. She decided to save Daniel, thought 'I can save Daniel', ran into the kitchen with him, grabbed the phone and dialled 999.

"The dog was still having a go at Daniel, grabbed him off the kitchen counter.

"On the 999 call you can hear him attacking Daniel and you can hear Jade shouting and screaming, trying to get the dog off.''

The inquest heard that the dog belonged to Mr and Mrs Ferdinand and they had been his owners for around four years.

They got Bailey from a dog rescue centre and no previous concerns had been raised about his behaviour.

A post-mortem examination on Bailey concluded that the dog was healthy and well-kept.

Police took advice from the Crown Prosecution Service and were satisfied no offences had been committed, he said.

A post-mortem examination at Great Ormond Street Hospital gave Archie's medical cause of death as severe head injuries consistent with a dog attack.

Essex Police said his brother, Daniel-Jay, whose second birthday is this weekend, suffered life-changing injuries in the attack.

The dog, a Staffordshire bull terrier-type, was owned by Archie's 31-year-old aunt, Clare Ferdinand, a serving Essex Police officer.

The dog was put down with her consent.

It happened weeks after a separate tragedy, in which three-year-old Dexter Neal was bitten and killed by an American bulldog in Halstead, Essex on August 18.

A 29-year-old woman from Halstead remains on police bail in connection with the incident.