Candlelit vigil held for girl, 4, killed in Milton Keynes dog attack

Crowds gather in memory of the child, as ward councillor acknowledges ‘sense of shock’ within community

A candlelit vigil has been held for a four-year-old girl who died after being attacked by a pet dog in Milton Keynes.

About 100 people gathered on Wednesday evening at a church near the home where the attack took place, to mourn the loss of the child.

Formal identification has yet to take place and the girl’s family stated they did not wish to publicly name her at the present time, Thames Valley police said.

Police were called to the property in Broadlands, in the Netherfield area of the city, by the ambulance service on Tuesday evening and the child died at the scene.

At the vigil, organised at Grand Union Vineyard church, prayers were said for the family. There were moments of reflection as music was played over speakers, including Amazing Grace and Over the Rainbow.

The vigil in Milton Keynes, where prayers were said for the family of the four-year-old girl who died after an attack by a pet dog
At the vigil, prayers were said for the family of the four-year-old girl, who had died after an attack by a pet dog. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Donna Fuller, a ward councillor for Woughton Community Council, said there is “such a sense of shock” and that it is an “awful situation”.

She told gathered crowds: “This family will need the time and space to allow them to process this tragic event and I hope that we can do that and help them in the future.

“I would ask that we support each other. There is a feeling of deep sadness that we will feel as a community so I ask you to be neighbourly and I ask you to be supportive and most of all I ask you to be kind.”

Fuller added the vigil was to “enable the community to come together and draw strength from each other”.

She added: “It will send a strong message to the family that we are thinking of them.”

Neighbours lay flowers at the scene on Broadlands, Milton Keynes where a four-year-old girl has died after a dog attack
Neighbours lay flowers at the scene on Broadlands, Milton Keynes where a four-year-old girl has died after a dog attack. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

The property remained cordoned off by police tape with flowers and soft toy tributes left on the pavement.

Police said no arrests have been made and that investigators are working to establish the breed of the dog, which was put down by officers on Tuesday.

Nobody else was hurt in the attack and the child’s family is being supported by specially trained officers, the force added.

The four-year-old girl was described as a “very happy child” by a neighbour. Rita Matthews, 36, said she would see the girl while walking her daughter to school.

“I know the girl. It’s so sad to hear that news,” she said.

“She was always holding her mummy’s hand on the way back. It’s so sad we’re not going to see the girl again and I pray all the best to her mum to get her strength back.”

She described the youngster as a “happy little girl, very happy”.

“She would say: ‘Bye, auntie’, and I would say: ‘Bye, little girl’,” she said. “You know kids, playing around.”

In an update earlier on Wednesday, Supt Marc Tarbit, local policing area commander for Milton Keynes, said the dog was thought to be a family pet.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the girl who has died in this extremely tragic incident,” he said. “We can confirm that the dog was destroyed yesterday evening by armed officers at the scene.

“There has been widespread speculation about the incident, which is not helpful and is distressing for the family, who have asked for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We will provide further updates when we are in a position to do so.”


Nadeem Badshah and Jessica Murray

The GuardianTramp

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