Dog 'owner' held after woman dies

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Sutton Borough Commander Guy Ferguson speaks to the media on Demesne Road, in Wallington where a woman was mauled to death

A man believed to be the owner of the dog which mauled to death a woman at her home in south London is being held by police.

Alex Blackburn-Smith was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter on Friday night following the victim’s death at a house on Demesne Road, Wallington.

She was named locally as Barbara Williams, thought to be in her 50s and a lodger at the property. The Belgian mastiff, described by one officer as large and ferocious, was shot dead by police marksmen.

The 34-year-old suspect was also held on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and taken to a south London police station.

Detective Chief Superintendent Guy Ferguson described the dog as “distinctly large” and said that at the time of Thursday’s 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.”

Sutton Council confirmed it had received a complaint about dogs damaging a neighbour’s fence last year.

Earlier, Mr Ferguson said Blackburn-Smith was the main occupier of the premises. It is thought the victim was a lodger at the property which was “controlled” by Blackburn-Smith.

Next-door neighbour Burhan Yanbolu, a father of twin girls, said: “We didn’t have anything to do with them because of the dog. It was a big strong dog.

“We started having problems with them in autumn 2009. Last year our children couldn’t play in the garden at all because the mastiff damaged a big chunk of fence crashing through.”

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. Somehow the dog went into a different bit and the police and paramedics worked on the lady.”

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