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Boy (11) who died in Co Antrim may have been attacked by family dog

Police at the scene yesterday at Queen's Avenue in the Glengormley area of Newtownabbey
Brendan Hughes

AN 11-year-old boy who died in Co Antrim yesterday may have been attacked by his family's pet dog.

Police have launched an investigation over the tragedy which unfolded at about 12.20pm at a house in Queen's Avenue in Glengormley.

Ambulance crews were called to the property and said a boy with "lacerations to the head" was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

It was later confirmed the child had died.

A 38-year-old man is in custody assisting police with their inquiries. A post-mortem examination is due to be carried out.

It is understood the boy lived with his father and younger brother, and was a pupil at Ashgrove Primary School.

The family are originally from eastern Europe and have lived in the area for several years.

A neighbour said she heard loud noises coming from the house before emergency crews arrived and a heavily-bandaged boy was taken to an ambulance.

Police cordoned off the neighbourhood of terraced homes as their investigation got under way.

It's understood a significant line of inquiry is whether the boy was attacked by the family's pet dog, thought to be a German Shepherd.

A dog was seen being removed from the property by police.

DUP councillor Phillip Brett said the family are well-known in the area.

"There is a deep sense of shock and sadness across Glengormley following the tragic death," he said.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by this tragedy."

UUP councillor Mark Cosgrove said: "It is a terrible tragedy when an 11-year-old boy loses their life.

"Anyone with information that might assist the PSNI – please come forward urgently."

Alliance councillor John Blair also urged anyone with information to contact police.

"Having had close ties with the area, I am shocked and deeply saddened for the community as a whole as they come to terms with what has happened on their doorstep," he said.

SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland said: "There are no words to describe the horror in this community. It's an absolute tragedy."

Antrim and Newtownabbey council – which has dog wardens that respond to reports of dog attacks, and stray or aggressive dogs – said it was unable to comment because of the police investigation.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time," a spokeswoman added.

The PSNI said: "Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of an 11-year-old boy at a house in the Queen's Avenue area of Newtownabbey. There are no further details at present."

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