A mother was under arrest last night on suspicion of manslaughter after her 11-month-old daughter was mauled to death by a dog.
Ava Jayne Marie Corless was asleep in bed at a house in Blackburn when she was savaged.
Police and ambulance staff attempted to resuscitate the girl but she was pronounced dead in hospital a short time later.
The girl’s mother, Chloe King, 20, and her partner, Lee Wright, 26, are being questioned on suspicion of manslaughter. Mr Wright is not Ava’s biological father, reports said.
They were downstairs when the attack took place, police said.Lancashire Police last night said the dog, which was destroyed, had been identified by experts as a pitbull terrier-type dog which people are prohibited from owning under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Local residents claim to have made previous complaints about the dog’s behaviour to police.
Chief Superintendent Chris Bithell of Lancashire Police said: “This is an absolutely horrific incident in which a baby girl has lost her life and I would like to take this opportunity to express my own personal sympathy to the wider family of baby Ava.”
Mr Bithell said police were first alerted by the ambulance service, who were called after reports of the girl being mauled by a pet dog.
A post-mortem examination will take place to find out the exact cause of death.
Mr Bithell added: “The dog is believed to be an American pitbull type, it has been destroyed and tests will be carried out today to establish the exact breed of the dog and inquiries into the history of the animal. I’m told it’s quite a large pitbull-type dog.”
Both suspects were initially arrested on suspicion of child neglect, before being rearrested on the more serious charge of manslaughter, Mr Bithell said.
“The lady in custody is the baby’s mother and the male in custody is the mother’s current boyfriend,” he added.
“The baby was upstairs in a bed in one of the front bedrooms and the two people who are currently in custody, they were downstairs when the attack took place.”
Asked about neighbours’ claims that they reported dangerous dogs at the address, he added: “As part of the investigation we are making inquiries to see whether there have been previous issues with this particular dog and I think at this moment it would be too early to speculate on that.”
Tributes were paid to the baby girl on Facebook.
Catt Allen wrote: “RIP Ava-Jayne heaven has gained another angel sleep tight beautiful girl xxxx”.
Jodii-Rebekah Doran added: “RIP Ava Jayne. Heaven has gained a beautiful angel xxx”.
Derek Turner posted: “Absolute tragedy ! RIP little angel xx”.