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9 September 2014, 17:41
The family of a 4 year old Leicestershire girl - mauled to death by their pet bulldog - say they still think of her every day.
Lexi Branson died after the 79lb (36kg) Aylestone-type dog attacked her in the lounge at home causing facial injuries and suffocating the little girl, last November.
Senior coroner Trevor Kirkman, recording a short narrative verdict, said: "Lexi Branson died as a result of injuries received in an attack upon her by a dog within her home.''
He added: "This must rank as one of the most harrowing cases. I know it cannot have been easy to those nearest and dearest to Lexi to have sat through the evidence.''
He added: "I offer my sincere condolences to the members of the family and friends who lost a lovely little girl tragically, in the circumstances we have heard.''
Mr Kirkman said there was "no question of apportioning blame'', but said he would be writing a report with recommendations to try and "prevent future such deaths''.
Rutland and North Leicestershire Coroners Court heard from the youngster's mother Jodi Hudson and how she saw the dog stare at Lexi, then go "straight for her throat'' in their two-bed ground-floor flat in Mountsorrel.
Ms Hudson was only able to pry her daughter from the dog after plunging a kitchen knife repeatedly into the animal.
Only days earlier, Ms Hudson had paid #50 to the Willow Tree Kennels, in Barrow-upon-Soar, where the dog had been delivered as an apparent stray.
Staff there said the dog was `"placid'' with "a lovely temperament''.
However, Ms Hudson said the bulldog - called Mulan - was advertised as possible being unsuitable for a home with "smaller children''.
But the kennels advised her this was down to its size and "a tendency to jump up''.
Both Ms Hudson and Lexi met the dog at the kennels just once, for 15 minutes, before returning on a second occasion to take the animal home.
No home visit was carried out by Willow Tree workers, to check whether Ms Hudson's flat was the right place for the dog to be re-homed, although it did assess the dog as suitable to be offered to a new owner.
Kennel owner Michael Watts said such home visits were only carried out if deemed necessary by staff, and this was in line with industry standards.
Unknown to the family and kennel staff, Mulan had recently attacked another family pet at its previous home.
The dog only ended up at the kennels when the previous male owner lied to the council dog warden, telling them it was a stray, so he would not have to pay to have it rehomed.
The coroner heard from Detective Sergeant Kenny Henry, of Leicestershire Police, who said it had attacked that previous owner's other dog in the back garden of his Leicester home.
That owner also told the RSPCA he was "concerned for the safety of his own children'' following the attack.
But while dog warden Jodie Barlow told the inquest Mulan had "seemed ok'' when she first picked it up, a note was shown to court where the warden had described the animal as looking "like she has been fighting, with marks all over her face''.