Owners of rottweilers that mauled woman to death avoid jail

Rottweiler Outdoors in forest and woodland
Rottweiler Outdoors in forest and woodland - Kurt Pas/iStockphoto

A mother and son whose rottweiler dogs fatally savaged a woman in a “frenzied” attack have avoided jail.

Marie Stevens, 40, went to pet the two dogs owned by Brian Walshe, 42, and his mother, Rachel Walshe, 69. One of the dogs, Frankie, bit her on the arm, before the other pet, Rocky, joined in the “frenzied” attack, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Handing the mother and son suspended jail sentences, Judge Andrew Menary KC, Recorder of Liverpool, said: “The circumstances of this case are shocking and deeply tragic.

“Marie Stevens was a kind and loving person who particularly loved animals and particularly loved dogs and what happened was a terrible irony.

“That is the problem with huge and powerful dogs like these, this is why the public is so concerned about casual ownership of such animals.”

Some of Mrs Stevens’s family walked out in disgust as Judge Menary said he would suspend the prison sentences.

Showing signs of aggression

Records showed Frankie had been taken to a vet, after showing signs of aggression, two days before the fatal attack in Park Lane West, Netherton, Liverpool.

Mrs Stevens, a care worker, of Brighton-le-Sands, Merseyside, had put down her bag to stroke Rocky when she was attacked by Franky on Aug 18, 2023.

Both dogs began biting Mrs Stevens who was “screaming” during the attack, lasting just over a minute, before Brian Walshe managed to wrestle the dogs under control, Robert Dudley, prosecuting, told the court.

Mrs Stevens was bitten multiple times and had to have skin grafts before being discharged from hospital two weeks later.

But the next day she collapsed and died at home following a deep vein thrombosis that pathologists said was a direct result of the dog attack.

Both defendants, of Grosvenor Close, Netherton, admitted a single charge of owning a dog dangerously out of control, causing injury resulting in death.

Both were given 10-month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months and a 20-day rehabilitation order and ordered to pay £3,500 for the upkeep of the dogs in police kennels, since the attack.

Judge Menary also ordered the destruction of the dogs and disqualified Mrs Walshe from owning a dog indefinitely and her son for five years.

In a victim impact statement, Mark Stevens said of his partner of 20 years: “I’m struggling to find the exact words to describe the utter turmoil I have been left in.

“I can’t admit she’s gone. I’m lonely. I can’t even begin to process what’s happened.”

He said his wife had gone to pet the rottweilers after they had lost their own beloved dog 12 months before, adding: “That’s what makes the way she died even harder to come to terms with.”

Nicola Newton, her sister, said: “She died after stroking dogs. Who would believe that?”