Man arrested as boy dies after being bitten by pet

Reggie Blacklin was taken to hospital after being bitten by his family's pet terrier but died later. Picture: Contributed

Reggie Blacklin was taken to hospital after being bitten by his family's pet terrier but died later. Picture: Contributed

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A NEWBORN baby boy died after he was attacked by a small terrier in Sunderland yesterday.

Three-week-old Reggie Blacklin was taken to hospital yesterday morning after he was bitten by the dog inside a house on Falkland Road, but he later died.

The family home where the attack took place. Picture: PA

The family home where the attack took place. Picture: PA

A police spokesman said the dog had been removed from the property and was likely to be destroyed.

A 30-year-old man was arrested in connection with 
the incident and was helping police with their inquiries.

The police spokesman said officers were called to the property at 4.15am.

A family member, who did not want to be identified, said the baby’s mother – named 
locally as Maria Blacklin – was not in the house when he was attacked, but added that she never left her son alone with the dog.

‘It is a total shock. We keep breaking down in tears’

The man said the child’s mother had been out attending a family event following 
a bereavement, and had returned late at night to find the distressing scene.

He said the baby’s mother was devastated by what had happened.

Superintendent Gillian Mitchell said: “This is obviously a very tragic incident and our thoughts are with the 
family of the baby at such a difficult time.

“We are carrying out inquiries to establish the circumstances of the incident and will have extra officers in the area to allow this to be done.

“Officers will also be on 
patrol to offer reassurance to the local community who may be concerned.”

Flowers were laid against the front wall of the house yesterday afternoon in the quiet, tree-lined street.

Some were accompanied with messages of support. One said: “Thoughts with you and all the family.”

A woman who appeared to be a family member and who was still wearing pyjamas went in through the front door of the pebbled-dashed, three-bedroom, semi-detached home, accompanied by plain-clothed police officers.

She emerged again after about ten minutes and was driven away by the officers.

Uniformed police were 
patrolling in the area and a 
police van was parked directly outside the front of the property.

The blinds of the house were drawn and the only sign of 
any incident was the police presence outside.

As well as flowers outside the house, local children placed cuddly toys, including a large white polar bear, a turtle and a Scooby Doo figure.

One tribute said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this tragic time.

“Shine like a bright diamond little one. Beautiful boy gone too soon.”

Neighbours said a couple living at the home had owned the small brown terrier for about a year.

Denise Haley, 59, who has lived on the street for 30 years, said: “It is a total shock. We keep breaking down in tears.”

Her daughter Rachel McLaran, 37, added: “I Just feel really devastated. I can’t imagine what she is going through. I’ve just had a baby myself so it is terrible. I fell sick about it.”

Neighbour Paul Tweddle said: “Words won’t console them with what they’re going through. Their baby’s only three weeks old.

“They were such a proud mam and dad. They’ve got a few children between them - very family orientated.

“They’re a run-of-the-mill, nice family.”

He added said: “It’s just horrible. It is a big shock. Eveybody sort of knows everybody. I’m a dad myself. You just can’t imagine. It’s really, really horrible.”

He said he had not seen baby Reggie since he was born but he saw the mother recently and asked her if she was having sleepless nights. Tweddle said she told him the new-born was a good sleeper.

He said: “It’s terrible, it’s horrible, what do you say?”

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