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Father drunkenly slept through fatal dog attack on son

Ryan Young jailed after baby Reggie mauled to death by family pet in Sunderland.

The court heard that the attack could have been stopped.
The court heard that the attack could have been stopped. PA/Family handout

A father who remained drunkenly asleep while the family's pet dog attacked and killed their three-week-old son has been jailed for 21 months.

The court heard how the mauling by the terrier may have lasted up to 20 minutes and could easily have been stopped, but Ryan Young did not wake up during the attack.

When Reggie's mother, Maria Blacklin, returned home in the early hours of the morning she described a scene of "gothic horror" at finding her newborn baby barely alive in a pool of blood on the floor.

Young and the Lakeland-cross, Tricky, were asleep.

Tributes were left outside the Sunderland home following the attack.
Tributes were left outside the Sunderland home following the attack. ITV News Tyne Tees

Young told police he had drunk eight cans of Foster's lager, and a taxi driver came forward to say he had been asked to deliver eight more to the address in Falkland Road, Sunderland, on the evening in June 2015.

The roofer later told police: "I would not say I was drunk, more tired."

He refused to give a breath test and the amount he had drunk was not clear.

Yet police officers who arrived at the scene described Young as "appearing drunk".

Ms Blacklin's grandmother had died that day and she had gone out to console her family, leaving her partner to look after Reggie, who was in a bouncer in the lounge.

Inquiries suggested the baby fell or was dragged from the bouncer and was mauled by the terrier - which was only around one foot tall - which had not been introduced to the newborn and may have been driven to attack by Reggie's "unco-ordinated" movements.

Mr Dodds said: "Had the defendant not been asleep in drink, he would have been able to stop the attack."

The court heard that the dog may have attacked due to Reggie's 'unco-ordinated' movements.
The court heard that the dog may have attacked due to Reggie's 'unco-ordinated' movements. Family handout

Newcastle Crown Court heard that the dog was kept in the garden and normally only allowed in the kitchen, but there were no concerns over its temperament around children.

At a previous hearing, Young admitted being the owner of a dog that resulted in the death while dangerously out of control.

Young carried his son's coffin ahead of his funeral service, Caroline Goodwin QC, defending, said.

"He is absolutely devastated," she said.

"Nothing he can do can turn back the clock and bring back his own child.

"It was all the more harrowing for the family when he carried his child's coffin before the service.

"It has been a long two years, this is a life sentence for this man."

The dog had been acquired as a puppy from a relative and was around two-years-old.

The amount Ryan Young had drunk remains unclear.
The amount Ryan Young had drunk remains unclear. PA

Judge Tim Gittens said Young's alcohol intake that night "significantly intoxicated" him, "if not to the point of stupor, then into a very deep sleep".

He said: "Reggie was subjected to a most dreadful, torturous, confusing attack and he sustained horrific and painful injuries."

The judge accepted that Young had developed depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in which he repeatedly experienced the aftermath of the terrier attack.

He said: "I am satisfied that your lack of control of your animal was due to the influence of alcohol and your selfish decision to drink to excess after a hard day at work."

The judge jailed Young for 21 months and banned him from keeping a dog for seven years.

He commended the emergency services for their efforts to save the baby, and described the scene they found as "traumatic".

He said: "It is clear that they nonetheless dealt with it in the most professional way and they did all they could for Reggie."

No family members were in court for the sentencing hearing, during which Young wept loudly.

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