Pitbull mauls father to death in front of teenage daugthers
A Staffordshire terrier-pitbull cross mauled a father-of-three to death in a "ferocious" unprovoked attack, an inquest has heard.
Former carpet fitter Stephen Hodgson, 45, had passed out through drink at his home in Cleater Moor, Cumbria, when family pet Buster barged into a bedroom and bit down on his neck.
His two daughters desperately tried to pull the dog away from an unconscious Mr Hodgson but it refused to let go and went on to savage his neck, head and face.
Following the 10-minute attack, Buster suddenly stopped and Carla Hodgson, 17, and her sister, Jade, 19, managed to grab him by his hind legs and secure him in another bedroom at the house in Robert Owen Avenue.
The teenagers placed sheets over their father's head in an attempt to stem the catastrophic blood loss but he was later pronounced dead at the scene on May 22 this year after emergency services arrived.
Three other dogs in the house, another Staffordshire-pitbull cross and two older Staffordshire bull terriers, were taken out of the address but Buster continued to be aggressive and barked continuously from behind the bedroom door.
More than two hours after Mr Hodgson's death, police deployed a Taser at the dog - not a banned breed - which fell to the floor and later died, the court heard.
Cockermouth Coroner's Court was told that "binge-drinker" Mr Hodgson had consumed alcohol heavily throughout the weekend after staying "dry" for the previous six to eight weeks.
He fell off the bed of his son, Frazer, 19, while his daughters watched TV, and became wedged between the bed and door.
In a statement read to the court, Carla said she and Jade shouted at their father to get up but his eyes were "rolling back" and they could not move him.
Buster was said to have leaned over him and sniffed at Mr Hodgson before being taken outside into the garden.
The sisters eventually managed to lift their father face-down on to the bed with his legs dangling off the side, the court heard.
The dog was then let back into the house and "barged" into the bedroom, where he jumped on to the bed and stood over a still unconscious Mr Hodgson.
Carla said Buster then nudged her father's head with his nose before biting down on the back of his neck.
The girls were unable to tear the dog away from their father and the animal dragged him to the floor and continued mauling him, the court was told.
Robert Chapman, Assistant HM Coroner for Cumbria, asked the younger sister: "There was nothing your dad did to aggravate your dog?"
She replied: "No."
Her sister, Jade, confirmed that was the case and added it was "just a normal day".
The family said Buster was normally "good-natured" but the court heard that he had twice previously bitten Mr Hodgson, who needed hospital treatment last November for injuries to his forearm.
In May's attack, Mr Hodgson's right carotid artery and jugular vein were severed.
Mr Chapman said: "This was clearly quite a ferocious attack. His head, neck and face were quite badly mauled by the dog.
"There is no indication of what caused the dog to do this. Clearly it must have been upset by something but we do not have any idea what."
In a narrative conclusion, the assistant coroner said Mr Hodgson had died from injuries sustained when his neck, face and head were bitten by a dog.
Mr Hodgson's children and their mother, Theresa O'Neill, Mr Hodgson's ex-partner, left the hearing without comment.