Couple Did Nothing As Army Veteran Was Eaten Alive — Was Their Punishment Fair?

A couple whose starved dog mauled a pensioner to death in his garden were jailed for a year today.


Army veteran Clifford Clarke’s limbs were left “hanging by a thread” after the frenzied animal smelled the meat stew he was cooking and “ate him alive”.

The dog’s owners Della Woods and her partner Hayley Sulley, both 30, had not fed their pet for 45 hours and allowed it to roam free in neighbors’ gardens.

But because the crime was in May last year – before a law change brought in tougher sentences for owners of killer dogs – they faced two years in prison at most.

Clifford’s furious brother Ken Clarke said tonight: “They got one year in jail and will probably be out in six months.

“It’s no sort of punishment. If the judge had given them longer it would have made an example of them.

 “You didn’t have these problems with dogs 20 years ago.

“But now you have eight-stone girls hauling 13-stone dogs behind them on a lead. It’s wrong.”

Woods and Sulley’s dog Charlie was so badly treated it ate cigarette butts and a plastic bowl, Liverpool crown court heard.

Before Clifford was attacked, the animal and two other dogs were spotted prowling gardens in the Norris Green area of the city “snarling” and “foaming at the mouth”.

But as the Mirror revealed last year, resident Selina Hagan called the city council’s dog unit, only to be told it would take up to four hours for anyone to respond.

One neighbor heard Clifford, 79, yell “get off me” before the animal clamped its jaws around the former athlete and hospital porter and savaged him.

The dog was so manic it even tried to bite the end of a police marksman’s rifle.

After being shot once, it got up and tried to attack again before it was finally killed. One officer later described the incident as “the worst thing I have ever seen”.

Judge Mark Brown told the owners: “Mr Clarke was literally eaten alive when large amounts of tissue were ingested by the dog and that is a very shocking, appalling and tragic event.

“Mr Clarke suffered a horrific death and you have taken away from his family the love and companionship he would have provided.”

Clifford’s brother Ken, 72, later blasted the Government’s law change as “punishment after the horse has bolted”.

He added: “If another child gets ripped to pieces by a dog, it’s Downing Street’s fault.

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