A MOTHER and son whose Rottweiler dogs fatally savaged a woman in a “frenzied” attack have been given suspended jail sentences.

Animal lover Marie Stevens, 40, whose own dog had died, went over to pet the two hounds: Rocky, owned by Brian Walshe, 42; and Frankie, owned by his mother, Rachel Walshe, 69.

Mrs Stevens, who was on her way to have an evening meal at her sister’s house, was first bitten on the arm by Frankie, causing the dog’s lead to be dropped.

She was then mauled by both dogs and “ragged” in what was described as a “frenzied” attack, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Signs of aggression

Records showed Frankie had been taken to the vets, after showing signs of aggression, two days before the fatal attack in Park Lane West, Netherton, Liverpool.

Mrs Stevens, a care worker, of Brighton-le-Sands, Merseyside, was bitten multiple times and had to have skin grafts before being discharged from hospital two weeks later.

But the next day she collapsed and died at home following a deep vein thrombosis that pathologists said was a direct result of the dog attack.

Both defendants, of Grosvenor Close, Netherton, admitted a single charge of owning a dog dangerously out of control causing injury resulting in death on August 18, 2023.

Deeply tragic

Judge Andrew Menary KC, Recorder of Liverpool, said: “The circumstances of this case are shocking and deeply tragic.

“Marie Stevens was a kind and loving person who particularly loved animals and particularly loved dogs and what happened was a terrible irony.

“That is the problem with huge and powerful dogs like these, this is why the public is so concerned about casual ownership of such animals.”

The court heard neither defendant had any previous convictions and lawyers for both described it as a “momentary” lapse that allowed the dogs to attack as a pack.

Both were given 10 months prison sentences, suspended for 18 months and a 20-day rehabilitation order and ordered to pay £3,500 to pay for the upkeep of the dogs in police kennels, since the attack.

Brian Walshe was also ordered to pay £500 prosecution costs and his mother, a retired NHS nurse, £150.

Judge Menary also ordered the destruction of the dogs and disqualified Mrs Walshe from owning a dog indefinitely and her son for five years.

Some of Mrs Stevens’ family walked out in disgust as Judge Menary said he would suspend the prison sentences.

Earlier, Robert Dudley, prosecuting, told the court CCTV showed the Walshes and Mrs Stevens walking down the street towards each other.

The dog owners moved out of the way to let her pass but the footage showed a brief interaction before Mrs Stevens put down her bag and move towards them, extending a hand to stroke Rocky.

Frankie then went for Mrs Stevens, biting her arm, dragging her to the ground and “ragging” her according to witnesses.

Both dogs began biting Mrs Stevens who was “screaming” during the attack, lasting just over a minute, before Brian Walshe managed to wrestle the dogs under control, Mr Dudley said.

A dog expert described the incident as: “A frenzied attack by two dogs acting independently but as part of a pack.”

Mrs Stevens suffered multiple wounds to her body and both limbs, including needing a skin graft before being discharged from hospital on September 1.


But, on September 3, her husband, Mark Stevens, found her collapsed at home from a blood clot which pathologists concluded was a result of the dog attack.

The Walshes claimed Mrs Stevens ignored a warning not to approach the dogs, but this was dismissed by the judge.

In a victim impact statement, Mark Stevens said of his partner of 20 years: “I’m struggling to find the exact words to describe the utter turmoil I have been left in.

“I can’t admit she’s gone. I’m lonely. I can’t even begin to process what’s happened.”

He said his wife had gone to pet the Rottweilers after they had lost their own beloved dog 12 months before, adding, “That’s what makes the way she died even harder to come to terms with.”

Nicola Newton, her sister, said: “She died after stroking dogs. Who would believe that?”

Jamie Baxter, defending Brian Walshe, said Rachel Walshe had lost the lead of Frankie as the attack began, causing the dogs to go into a frenzy but the son had “desperately” fought to get back control.

He described Brian Walshe as a “good person, a hard-working man” who had shown genuine remorse and had been left “broken” by a “momentary lapse of attention”.

John Rowan, defending Rachel Walshe, said she was deeply remorseful, and had spent her life looking after others as an NHS nurse and had kept Rottweiler dogs for 30 years.