Family of boy mauled to death by dog speak of their 'devastating loss'


The family of a three-year-old boy who died after being attacked by a dog have spoken of their "devastating loss".

Dexter Neal died in hospital after being bitten at a property in Parker Way, Halstead, Essex, near his Ronald Road home, on Thursday.

Ashley Coe described Dexter as his "darling nephew".

In a post on Facebook he added: "I can't even begin to describe what state we are all in this is an absolutely devastating loss for my sister and her husband and there's nothing I can say to them."

"Agonising screams" were heard by a neighbour as the boy was attacked by the animal.

Dexter Neal
(Essex Police/PA)

Phyllis Younger, 82, who has lived in Parker Way for 58 years, said she heard screaming at around 5.45pm, with emergency services arriving shortly afterwards.

She told the Press Association the screaming "did not go on for long" and she was sure they were from a child.

"Now I know what the scream was, it is absolutely awful," she said, adding: "It was like someone was in pain, definitely - agonising screams. It is terrible."

Tributes for Dexter Neal
(John Stillwell/PA)

Blood could be seen on the floor of an outhouse at the property, behind the police cordon, including a spatter across a child's toy car, as forensics officers inspected the scene.

Essex Police said the dog - identified as an American bulldog - had been seized by officers and placed in kennels.

Neighbour Scott Nowell, 19, described what he saw on the street in the aftermath of the attack as "terrible scenes".

He told the BBC: "I could hear terrible screams and a man in the house going 'one, two, three, four' - like he was doing chest compressions.

"The mother was on the front garden, she was down on her knees distraught and covered in blood. The ambulance and the police then came and they took over.

"The dog got quickly taken away - it was terrible, terrible scenes. Everyone was out there trying to help."

Police outside Dexter Neal's home
(John Stillwell/PA)

A police cordon was put in place around the semi-detached property where the attack happened, with floral tributes left outside.

The East of England Ambulance Service said an air ambulance was called to the scene, along with two rapid response vehicles, paramedics and an ambulance.

A spokesman said: "At the scene, a young child was treated for life-threatening injuries before being airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital (in Cambridge).

"Sadly, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the child has died. Our thoughts are with the family involved at this time."

Essex Police said family liaison officers have been deployed to support the family, adding: "We strongly request that their privacy is respected as this extremely difficult time."