Jade’s gran: ‘You let my family suffer for months’

Picture shows Shirley Lomas-Anderson and Michael Anderson (centre), the mother and father of Jade (below), arriving at Bolton Coroners Court
Picture shows Shirley Lomas-Anderson and Michael Anderson (centre), the mother and father of Jade (below), arriving at Bolton Coroners Court
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JADE Anderson’s family accused the owner of the dogs which killed her of “making us suffer for 19 months” during angry scenes at the schoolgirl’s inquest.

At a hearing at Bolton Coroner’s Court yesterday, Beverley Concannon, whose dogs mauled Jade to death in March 2013, apologised to the family of the 15-year-old for her death.

Jade Anderson

Jade Anderson

But she went on to stun the court by insisting that before they mauled tragic Jade to death they had never acted aggressively or posed a threat to the public - despite testimonies from terrified neighbours to the contrary.

Jade’s grandmother stood up to confront Concannon, who gave evidence on the second day of the inquest into Jade’s death after failing to turn up on Thursday, telling her that “you made my family suffer for 19 months and had ample opportunity to apologise”.

The court heard that following the death of the Fred Longworth High School pupil, police officers received up to 17 different accounts from neighbours in which they described Concannon’s dogs as “loud and aggressive”, with one dog singled out as being particularly wild.

The court heart Jade and Concannon’s daughter Kimberley were at the house on March 26 last year when the tragedy unfolded.

Kimberley had gone to visit neighbours to warm up a pie for dinner as the family’s microwave wasn’t working.

She later told police she left Jade on the living room sofa while she went next door.

When she returned less than 15 minutes later, Jade was unconscious on the kitchen floor.

Coroner Alan Walsh concluded that Jade may possibly have gone into the kitchen area where the dogs were kept after Kimberley’s telephone - which was on charge - started ringing when her mother tried to contact her.

Despite the efforts of the emergency services Jade was pronounced dead at the scene.

A pathologist told the court that Jade died from “multiple severe injuries” caused by vicious bites from at least two of the powerfully-built dogs.’

Concannon repeatedly denied that her dogs - Buddy (a two-year-old male white mastiff), Neo (a six- year-old male tan mastiff), Ty (a four-year-old male Staffordshire bull terrier), Sky (a three-year-old female Staffordshire bull terrier) and Charlie (a male shiatsu puppy) - acted aggressively.

But she refused to say why she had warned Jade and other visitors to the house “not to go into the kitchen alone with the dogs”.

The court heard that six months before the dogs attacked and killed Jade, a charity visited the Concannon household and offered to neuter the three male dogs free of charge.

Det Insp Joanne Clawson told the hearing the charity’s workers were deeply concerned about the dogs’ behaviour.

She said: “A charity called Prevention for Unwanted Pets (PUP) took Buddy, Neo and Ty to a vet to be neutered.

The vet of more than 20 years experience said Buddy was the most aggressive dog he had come across and that he and Neo had to be sedated just to get them safely out of the cages for the operation”.

The court also heard how all the dogs received almost no exercise, with both Concannon’s daughter and her boyfriend, Richard Bilsbury, telling police that Buddy was “kept in a cage in the kitchen almost all of the time”.

But Concannon told the court that she “did not witness any incidents” of the dogs being aggressive and that she was not aware of them barking at passers-by from the garden.

However, more than 17 neighbours told police following Jade’s death that the dogs were “terrifying” when anybody walked passed the house and that Buddy in particular would become more aggressive.

Wigan and Leigh Housing also confirmed they had two complaints about Beverly Concannon’s dogs barking in 2012.

Det Insp Clawson told the court that officers who attended the scene of Jade’s death, including herself, are still “deeply affected” by it.

A visibly distressed Det Insp Clawson told the court that Jade had been attacked in the kitchen and that some of the clips used to secure Buddy’s cage were not attached to the door. Four of the dogs had to be shot dead by armed officers.

During yesterday’s hearing the court heard Concannon boasted to neighbours that burglars would never have “walked out of her house alive”.

Neighbours who lived near Concannon’s ramshackle Chaucer Grove’s home in Atherton said that “nobody was allowed inside the house” because of the pack of dogs she kept and that they used to scare anybody who walked past the house.

At the hearing at Bolton Coroners’ Court, a pathologist confirmed that Jade died as the result of multiple severe injuries “consistent with the bites of at least two separate dogs”.

Dr Naomi Carter told the inquest that Jade “did not suffer” but that she believed at least two dogs had attacked the Fred Longworth High School pupil.

The court heard from three of Concannon’s neighbours, who all confirmed that the dogs acted aggressively and were never seen outside the house being walked.

One neighbour, Laura Tonge said that Concannon once told her that: “She hoped burglars never broke into her house as they wouldn’t be walking out alive.”

Ms Tonge also said that on the numerous occasions she visited Concannon’s house she “never got past the front doorstep” because of the dogs.

She added: “My husband was once asked to go and lay down some new flooring for Beverley (Concannon) but he refused because he was scarred of the dogs.”

Delivering a narrative verdict, Mr Walsh said that Jade’s death was a tragedy of “the most extreme proportions” but urged her family to continue to fight in her name for changes to legislation regarding dangerous and out of control dogs.

Outside court, Jade’s parents Shirley and Michael vowed to continue their campaign for further changes in dog ownership laws.