This was despite warnings from social workers telling them not to leave the Staffordshire Bull Terrier alone with the baby. Two-week-old infant Reuben McNulty was sitting on the sofa with his mother Amy Litchfield, who was asleep after taking sleeping pills, when he was bitten as many as 23 times on the head by the dog. The attack occurred in the early hours of the morning on November 18, 2018.
The baby’s father, Daniel McNulty, called emergency services when he discovered the bloody scene.
Coroner for the Cambridgeshire area Simon Milburn told the inquest that, speaking to a 999 call handler, Mr McNulty said: “I think the f***ing dog’s attacked him.
“My partner was asleep. I just heard crying.”
Reuben, who was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, died three weeks later after suffering a severe traumatic brain injury and gastro-intestinal failure.
The couple owned two Staffordshire bull terriers, Dotty – who was involved in the attack – and Fizz.
During the inquest – held at Peterborough Town Hall – Mr Milburn said: “In the early hours the explanation was that the mother was asleep in the living room – she had taken sleep tablets.
“Reuben was asleep in the same room and the dogs were asleep or lying quietly in their bed in the same room.
“Dan said he went out for a cigarette and Amy recalled in her [police] interview that Dan told her but unfortunately she fell back asleep, and it was when Dan came back inside a short time later he found Reuben seriously injured and one of the dogs, Dottie, covered in Reuben’s blood.
“I think the best way to characterise that series of events is that it was an unintentional short period of inadvertent inattention which sadly had horrific and tragic consequences.”
He added: “Reuben died as a result of head injuries caused when he was attacked by a dog which was a family pet inside his home address.”
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Mr Milburn extended his condolences to the family.
The inquest into Reuben’s death was not attended by either parent.
They were both arrested on suspicion of child neglect after Reuben’s death, but in December 2020 prosecutors decided not to charge either of them.
Detective sergeant Emma Compson confirmed that the police will take no further action against the pair.
Speaking about Mr McNulty’s discovery of the incident, Mr Milburn said: “He said on picking (Reuben) up he saw the injuries and saw the dog Dotty licking its lips.”
The inquest also heard that, when paramedics arrived, Daniel and Amy refused to hold Reuben.
According to veterinary forensics specialist Simon Newbury, Reuben had 23 individual puncture marks.
He said there were “at least four to five bites or engagements” and “quite possibly as many as 18 to 23 if single punctures are single engagements each time”.
Mr Newbury said he believed the dog saw the baby as “a small prey or squeaky toy”.
He said: “I suspect Reuben was shaken between engagements.
“This attack would have lasted a minute or longer.
“It’s possible Dotty was stimulated into prey drive by a certain movement.”
Sophie Bradley, a social worker, said that Reuben’s mother had previously described the two dogs as “her babies”.
But Ms Bradley warned Ms Litchfield that the dogs “can be unpredictable and can get jealous”.
Both dogs were seized by police and put down following the incident, the inquest heard.