Mum breaks down in tears as she apologises after her son, 9, was mauled to death by 100lb dog as she drank & took drugs

Mum breaks down in tears as she apologises after her son, 9, was mauled to death by 100lb dog as she drank & took drugs

September 18, 2021

A MUM who drank and took drugs as her nine-year-old son was mauled to death by a 100lb American bulldog-cross broke down as she apologised for her "selfish actions".

Tawnee Willis said she was "truly, truly sorry" after leaving Frankie Macritchie alone with the vicious dog to party at a caravan site in Looe, Cornwall.

The powerless schoolboy suffered 54 injuries and massive blood loss after the beast – which had previously bitten another child – pounced on him.

The mother told an inquest: "I am truly, truly sorry. I miss him every day and I know they [Frankie's family] do.

"I know their heart breaks, mine does too. I know nothing I can do will change what happened.

"I'm sorry my selfish actions have caused them so much heartache.

"From the bottom of my heart I wish they can find some closure and find some peace."

Willis claimed she had checked on her son at least four or five times on the fateful night in April 2019 while she joined pals for a drink in a neighbouring caravan in the early hours.

She told the senior Cornwall coroner the little boy – who had a heart condition – was playing on his PlayStation alone while she drank, played cards and listened to music.


But the now 31-year-old had also been snorting cocaine while Frankie was left alone with the "extremely powerful "animal, a Crown Court judge previously heard.

A police officer who attended the scene said she was under the influence of "alcohol or drugs" in the hours after the incident.

Willis said she checked on Frankie at 1am and he said he wanted pizza because he was hungry – but she told him she wasn't going to cook so late at night and handed him some Mars bars.

She said she then returned an hour later to give her son his medication, telling the inquest she "was back and forth".

The 31-year-old, giving evidence to the coroner, said on her final check, the American bulldog cross Staffy bull terrier, named Winston, followed her to her caravan.

The mum said she asked her pal and the owner of the vicious pet, Sadie Totterdell, 29, if the animal was okay around children.

Willis explained: "The last time the dog followed me in. Frankie asked me if the dog could stay.

"I asked Sadie and she said 'Take Winnie, Winnie loves kids'. I just did not think anything of it and I just left them."


The inquest heard she left them in the caravan for "about an hour" before she went back to discover "the most dreadful sight".

Willis horrifically found her son's butchered body on the floor – while the dog chillingly sat on the sofa "just looking at me".

The mum began screaming "my baby, my baby" as she crouched over Frankie.

She said there had never been any issues with Frankie and the dog and that she was unaware Winston had previously attacked a child.

Holidaymakers rushed to the little boy's aid as they were woken by the screams, who were today praised for their valiant efforts.

Willis told the heroic Colin Smith and mum Sarah Thompson: "I just want to say thank you for helping me that night.

"I'm sorry that I put you in that situation and you had to witness that."

Daddy is so lost without you little man I really don't know how I'm ever gonna live without you.

The pair were also applauded for their actions at the "truly horrific scene" by the coroner, while Frankie's family said Mrs Thomspon was "an angel".

Frankie's grandmother Pauline Elford said: "Being a mum yourself I can imagine how this has affected you. We can only say thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

Frankie's dad Billy MacRitchie, who wasn't on the holiday, shared a heartbreaking tribute to his son at the time saying his "world has shattered into a million pieces" after his death.

Willis was jailed for two years in June 2020 after admitting child neglect at Truro Crown Court.

The dog's owner Sarah Totterdell, 29, was caged for three years after she admitted being the person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury resulting in death.

She was banned from keeping dogs for ten years and Winston was later put to sleep.

The harrowing inquest into Frankie's death continues and is due to end on Friday, September 17.

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