Partner admits keeping danger dogs that killed mum-to-be at Leeds house

Emma Bennett. PIC: Ross Parry
Emma Bennett. PIC: Ross Parry
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A LEEDS man has admitted keeping the banned dogs that horrifically mauled his pregnant partner to death.

Mother-of-four Emma Bennett, 27, died after receiving serious dog bites at an incident at her home on December 9 last year.

A previous court hearing was told the epilepsy sufferer may have suffered a fit which could have led the two dogs to see her as prey.

Her partner, Lee Horner, 34, pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates Court today to two counts of possessing prohibited dogs contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

The court heard that police were called to Ms Bennett’s address in Leeds after a neighbour could hear what she thought was an argument.

The neighbour said she could hear barking and heard a woman shouting “no, no, no”.

Prosecuting, Vincent O’Malley told the court: “Two policeman entered the property and were met by two dogs who had blood on their snouts and appeared excited. They noticed drops of blood in the doorway and on the carpet and went

into the living room.

“There they saw Emma Bennett lying motionless on the floor with her legs on the sofa. She had extensive injuries particularly to her facial area and her head.”

Police attempted CPR and called an ambulance but Ms Bennett died from her injuries at Leeds General Infirmary.

The court heard that the two dogs - Bella and Dollar - were examined by experts and found to have sufficient characteristics to be a banned breed of pit bull

type dogs. The dogs were not found to be aggressive towards the experts.

Mr O’Malley also told the court that on a visit made by social workers to the couple’s address in July 2013 Horner used the dogs to threaten them - something Horner denies.

The court also heard that during the unannounced home visit, the two female social workers found the house to be in a poor condition and were met by Horner who began to make threats to them.

Horner said to one social worker “shut it or I’ll set the dog on you” before threatening the second social worker - who was eight months pregnant - saying: “What you looking at? Wait until I get the dog and see if you keep looking at me like that.”

Mr O’Malley said: “To have two dogs of that breed suggests knowledge and desire to have that particular breed.”

When Horner was interviewed by police he confirmed joint ownership of the dogs and said he bought Dollar 12 to 14 months previously, believing he was a ‘Staffy’.

Bella was given to Horner by his brother approximately four months prior to the incident after her original owner found her to be too excitable. Horner told police that Bella would sleep with him and Emma.

But, Horner’s defence insisted in court, he did not know either were a pitbull for sure, only suspecting that Dollar was but not suspecting Bella.

The court heard that Horner, who has 39 previous offences but none relating to dangerous dogs, has suffered from anxiety since the death of his partner and has difficulty sleeping.

Defending, Narinder Nathor said: “Mr Horner lost his accommodation as a result of the incident and now lives with his brother. It has had further ramifications with relationships with family ties.”

Deputy District Judge Tim Spruce said: “The greater harm here, and what greater harm could there be than death, is accepted by both prosecution and defence.

“I have read impact statements from relatives of the deceased which are moving but I also have to recognise Mr Horner has lost his partner.

“This is a case which for all concerned requires closure. I find in light of all the matters just mentioned this is a case unlikely to result in a custodial sentence.”

Emma was pregnant with her fifth child and lived at the terraced property with the two dogs. It is thought she didn’t work due to her condition.

Horner is due to be sentenced later.

Mark Cashin

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