Tuesday 22 August 2017

Starving Jack Russell chewed body of its owner as she lay dead

Inquest hears the pet was left in Mary Houlden's bungalow without food for weeks after she died and her body lay undiscovered

Hereford Town Hall where the inquest took place
Hereford Town Hall where the inquest took place

A starving dog ate part of its owner as her dead body lay undiscovered for weeks, an inquest heard.

Mary Houlden, 70, was found by her nephew after he became concerned she had not been seen around the village where she lived.

He entered the bungalow after smelling rotting meat and discovered her chewed remains in the conservatory of her home in Marden, Herefordshire, on August 30.

An inquest heard her Jack Russell Poppy had been left in the house without food and was so desperate it had bitten off Miss Houlden's arm.

Several fingers and part of her hand were missing and it is believed Poppy ate them to survive.

Herefordshire Coroner's Court heard Miss Houlden led a solitary life and did not answer the door to unexpected visitors.

Her nephew Paul Larratt told the inquest he made the grisly discovery when he went to her home after he had not heard from her for several weeks.

In a statement read to the court, DC Catherine Taylor, said Miss Houlden's body was badly decomposed and her arm had been found away from her body, with fingers missing, and it was believed her dog was responsible.

She said there were also torn food wrappers inside the bungalow as the dog desperately searched for food.

Due to the body's decomposition the pathologist was not able to record a cause of death.

Recording an open verdict, Coroner Mark Bricknell said he was satisfied the death was not suspicious and added: "We do not have sufficient evidence to evaluate whether the death was accidental following a trip or fall or whether it was natural causes."

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