Death dog's owner sought by police

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Police outside a property where Barbara Williams was mauled to death by a Belgian mastiff dog

Police have issued an urgent appeal to trace the man believed to have owned a Belgian mastiff that mauled a woman to death.

The victim, named locally as Barbara Williams, was savaged on Thursday night at a house on Demesne Road, Wallington, south London.

The dog, described by one officer as large and ferocious, was shot dead by police marksmen. Police have said they are urgently seeking Alex Blackburn-Smith, who is believed to be the owner of the dog.

Detective Chief Superintendent Guy Ferguson: “We are in the process of contacting the lady’s next-of-kin. We also urgently want to speak to Alex Blackburn-Smith, who is the main occupier of the premises, in relation to the circumstances of the incident to establish facts.”

Mr Ferguson described the dog as “distinctly large” and said at the time of the attack another woman of similar age to Ms Williams was in the house with a child under five. “It was a very ferocious dog,” he said. “The officers had to use shields to contain the dog.”

He said police would be investigating previous complaints about the dog and what, if anything, was done. On Mr Blackburn-Smith, he said: “My information is he lives at that address and has a 1976 date of birth and we are making inquiries to speak to him.”

Next door neighbour Burhan Yanbolu said the attack was “always going to happen”. Mr Yanbolu, a minicab driver, had previously called the police and council to complain about the animal after it smashed their adjoining fence.

Mr Yanbolu, a father of twin girls, said he complained about the dog to Mr Blackburn-Smith said: “I once saw the young boy in the house playing with the mastiff and it was getting too rough, so I told the woman who got killed, and she said they were just playing.”

Describing Thursday night’s horrific events, Mr Yanbolu said: “The police came through our garden to get access. We could hear them talking about the female, saying she was badly injured and there was lots of blood, but they couldn’t get in to secure the dog.

He said police marksmen evacuated neighbours on the other side and considered moving him and his wife as well. “They told us to expect 10 rounds to take the dog out,” said Mr Yanbolu. “But it was only four. We heard three and then 30 seconds later there was one more.”

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