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Man appears in court charged over fatal dog attack on pensioner

Darren Pritchard did not enter a plea and his case was adjourned until next month.

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Darren Pritchard leaving Dudley Magistrates' Court

A 44-year-old man has appeared in court accused of being in charge of two dogs which were dangerously out of control, resulting in the death of a pensioner.

Darren Pritchard was not asked to indicate pleas to an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act and further charges of possessing cannabis with intent to supply and producing the drug at an address in the street where Lucille Downer, 85, was pronounced dead.

Lucille Downer

Pritchard, of Merrivale Road, Smethwick, is alleged to have been the owner or in charge of two American bulldogs involved in Mrs Downer’s death at her home in Boundary Avenue, Rowley Regis on April 2 2021.

Fatal dog attack in Rowley Regis
Flowers outside Lucille Downer’s house in April 2021 (Jacob King/PA)

West Midlands Police said at the time that Mrs Downer suffered “multiple” injuries after the dogs escaped from a neighbouring property through a hole in a fence, with her family saying in a statement that they would “miss her dearly”.

During a nine-minute hearing at Dudley Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, Pritchard spoke only to confirm his personal details.

Magistrates decided jurisdiction of the case, sending it for a plea hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court on April 18.

The bench also imposed conditional bail on Pritchard, ordering him to live and sleep at his home address, not to attend Boundary Avenue, and not to contact witnesses.

Police have said the dogs were humanely destroyed after the incident.

An inquest held previously was told Mrs Downer, a retired cook, was found in her back garden and was confirmed deceased at the scene.

A forensic post-mortem examination was carried out and the medical cause of death was found to be a neck injury caused by a dog bite.

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