Baby boy dies and child seriously injured after attack by dog

Officers removed the dog from the property after the incident
Officers removed the dog from the property after the incident

A four-month-old baby was killed and his 22-month-old brother seriously injured when they were bitten by a dog.

The boys' mother was also hurt in the attack in Colchester, Essex.

Police were called to a house in Harwich Road at 3.10pm on Thursday.

Neighbour Scott Mills, who lives opposite, became aware of a "commotion" when he saw four police cars and two ambulances arrive at the family home.

The 24-year-old was among a crowd of concerned neighbours and passers-by who gathered as emergency services cordoned off the road.

He said: "When we heard that a baby had died, everyone was very upset. It's dreadful and so tragic.

"There were a lot of children about because of the time - a lot of children were coming home from school."

Mr Mills believes the dog was a Staffordshire bull terrier-type, although the breed has not been confirmed by police.

"I saw the dog being taken away. At 4pm a black van arrived," he said.

"The dog was taken out of the property at 4.30pm. It was on a pole lead. It wasn't a normal Staffie. It was a lot more chunky - probably a Staffordshire cross or some kind of bulldog breed.

"No-one opposite knows the family but I wish them the best at this awful time for them after a tragic accident."

Police have not confirmed the breed of dog involved in the attack but said the animal was put down with the owner's consent.

No arrests have been made.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named but was at home at the time of the incident, said: "The whole community is in shock. It's all very upsetting. You are caught off guard with these things.

"I am very upset about it all. My children saw it (the aftermath) and are very upset.

"We suddenly saw police cars at the house and the fact that it was two children is very upsetting. The little baby couldn't have done anything. It's just so sad.

"I didn't know the family well but you look out of the window and recognise your neighbours. I just can't believe it."

Will Quince, MP for Colchester, spoke of his sorrow at the incident, tweeting: "So sad to hear of the death of a baby in a dog attack in Colchester.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his brother now at Colchester Hospital."

Chief Inspector Elliot Judge said: "This is a tragic incident that Essex Police is investigating. Specially trained officers are providing support to the family at this difficult time."

There have been 83 deaths from dog bites in England and Wales in the last 35 years, the most coming in 2009 when there were six, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Between 1982 and 1986 seven people were killed, and another eight between 1987 and 1991, when the Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced.

But in the following five years there were six deaths, between 1992 and 1996, and eight more from 1997 to 2001.

This preceded a major upturn in the number of dog bite deaths. The number more than doubled between 2002 and 2006, when there were 17, followed by 19 deaths between 2007 to 2011.

Including Thursday's tragedy there have been 18 deaths since 2012.