An investigation has revealed that the 72-year-old maternal grandfather, who died after being killed by the family dog while caring for his granddaughter, was “acquainted” with the animal.
Elizabeth Ray Walton, 72, was attacked during her school holidays while caring for her youngest grandson at her daughter’s home in Pembrokeshire.
When he returned home from work on the afternoon of August 10, 2021, his son-in-law found him lying on the floor of the utility room covered with “a large amount of blood”.
Read more: Paramedics try to revive Lily Ann Sullivan found lifeless in pond, interrogation told
Coroner’s Officer Lisa Jenkins said she was taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea, where she was treated for “extreme injuries to her legs and buttocks” and an arm was amputated.
However, Mrs Walton never regained consciousness and died in the early hours of 1 September from suspected shock and contracting pneumonia as a result of her injuries.
According to a report read during interrogation at Haverfordwest County Hall on 12 January, Mrs Walton went to her daughter’s home in Goodwick, Pembrokeshire, on August 10, 2021, to help with childcare during the school holidays.
Born and raised in Pembrokeshire, Mrs Walton, an only child, worked for Stena Line Ferries before taking a job with the Vincent Davis Home Store in Haverfordwest.
She was a regular visitor at her daughter Leah Walton’s home, where she and her partner Ryan kept several dogs. Miss Jenkins revealed during interrogation that it was Ryan who had found Mrs Walton on her return home. She was alone in the house while her granddaughter went out to play.
Ryan noticed that the wooden partition that usually kept the dogs out of the house was not in place, Miss Jenkins said, and it was clear that “one of the dogs had attacked” Mrs. Walton.
At the time, police confirmed that the dog, an American Bulldog, does not fall under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The animal was destroyed after the incident.
The elderly woman was still conscious and was complaining of chills and so Ryan tried to cover up and keep her warm, calling Leah and emergency services.
She was taken by air ambulance to Morrison, where, despite the best efforts of doctors in the intensive care unit, she never recovered. The medical cause of death was given by doctor Jonathan Lloyd Evans, who said Mrs Walton had suffered a heart attack and ventilator-induced pneumonia, suspected shock and fatal dog bite injuries.
As painful as these actions are for those who have lost a loved one, the lessons that can be learned from questioning can go a long way in saving the lives of others.
The press has a legal right to participate in investigations and a responsibility to report on them as part of its duty to uphold the principle of open justice.
It is the duty of a journalist to ensure that the public understands the reasons why someone died and to ensure that their death is not kept secret. An inquiry report can also dispel any rumor or doubt about the death of a person.
But, more importantly, an investigation report can draw attention to circumstances that could have prevented further deaths.
An entire branch of the judicial system cannot be held responsible if journalists shy away from being involved in investigations.
Inquiries can often prompt extensive discussion on serious issues, the most recent of these being mental health and suicide.
The editors actively ask and encourage journalists to speak to the family and friends of the person who is the subject of investigation. Their contribution helps us to build a clearer picture of the person who died and also gives us an opportunity to pay tribute to our loved one.
Often families do not want to speak to the press and of course that decision should be respected. However, as seen by many powerful media campaigns, the input of one person’s family and friends can make all the difference in helping others save.
Questions would remain unanswered and lives would be lost without the presence of the press at the interrogation.
Acting Senior Coroner for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, Paul Bennett, described Mrs Walton’s death as “one of those tragic situations” where a dog has launched “a series of attacks”.
“He was hospitalized as a result of the injuries and developed suspected shock and ventilator-induced pneumonia,” Mr Bennett said, recording the conclusion of the accidental death. “Dog attacks and bites seem perfectly logical for the dog to be the result of an unintended act.
“The sad fact is that Mrs. Walton was a victim of this incident for whatever reason. And in that sense, has been the victim of an accident.”
He offered his condolences to the family, who were not present at the investigation, describing Mrs Walton’s death as a “very sad loss”.
Get news like this from our newsletters straight to your inbox.