Boy, 4, savaged by neighbor’s dog leaving him with horrendous facial injuries


Leon Lawlor had been playing in the garden and was attacked by the lurcher dog when he went to use the downstairs toilet at the Stoke-on-Trent home

Leon Lawlor had been playing in the garden prior to the attack

A four-year-old has been savagely attacked by a dog when he went to use the toilet at a neighbor’s house.

Leon Lawlor was bitten around his mouth and eye and, being left covered in blood, ended up requiring surgery.

The little boy was playing in David Thorley’s garden and was told to use the downstairs bathroom at his home in Stoke-on-Trent.

However, lurcher Duke was inside the home and savaged Leon in a terrifying attack.

Thorley, 30, admitted being the owner of a dog which caused injury while dangerously out of control and was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, reports Stoke-on-Trent Live.

He was also ordered to pay Leon £250 in compensation.






Four-year-old Leon Lawlor was left with injuries requiring hospital treatment





Lurcher Duke was inside the home and savaged Leon in a terrifying attack

The drama unfolded at 7pm on August 1, 2020.

Prosecutor Alexander Barnfield said: “The child was shown the downstairs toilet in the utility room. The utility room door was pushed ajar.

“The defendant’s lurcher, Duke, which Thorley had owned for five years, had been around the child several times before.

“The child’s mother disagrees with that and suggests the dog had always been shut away when the child was there.

“The child was in the utility room and getting ready to use the toilet when the dog attacked him and bit his face.

“Thorley heard the disturbance and distress and intervened and took the child to his parents’ house immediately.”

Leon suffered “significant” facial injuries and was taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital, where he had stitches to his right eyelid and mouth.






Mum Chloe Cyples pictured with Leon Lawlor





Leon was also left with some bruising

Staffordshire Police assessed the dog the next day and the officer had no concerns about the animal’s behaviour. Duke has had several owners since and his current whereabouts are not known.

In his police interview, Thorley – who now lives in Lilac Grove, Blurton – said Duke had never been a problem before and he had no reason to suspect that anything would happen.

He added he immediately took steps to move him out of the area.

Steve Hennessy, mitigating, said the defendant has expressed appropriate levels of regret and remorse.

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The dad-of-three is a ground maintenance worker and his partner is expecting another baby in August.

Mr Hennessy said: “He has always accepted the dog has caused the injury. He was immediately remorseful to the parents of the child and the dog was immediately removed from the area so they did not have to see it again.”

The suspended sentence includes a five-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 60 hours unpaid work.

Judge Graeme Smith said: “The four-year-old son of a neighbor was attacked by your dog Duke. He did suffer significant and serious injury. He required treatment in hospital.

“It is clear that this was very much out of character for Duke. There is no suggestion of any previous incidents and when assessed by the police there was no particular cause for concern.

“Your guilt was to allow the child to be in a confined area with Duke without proper supervision.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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