A husky racing couple whose three-month-old daughter was attacked and killed by one of their dogs during a training run has been spared jail after a judge described it as a case of “terrible circumstances aligning”.
Baby Kyra King suffered fatal head and neck injuries when she was mauled in her pram by a Siberian husky sled dog called Blizzard, which escaped from a van it was being transported in.
Vince King, 55 and Karen Alcock, 41, who owned 19 huskies bred to compete in sled racing events, had been exercising the dogs in woodland near their home in Lincolnshire at 11.30pm on 6 March 2022.
They were rotating the sledding teams when Blizzard escaped through the front passenger door which had been left open and attacked the baby as she slept in her pram.
Lincoln Crown Court heard that Blizzard had never caused any issues previously and was not considered to pose a danger to a child.
Alcock, a veterinary nurse, later suggested the only reason she could think to explain the attack was that the dog, which was pregnant, had not eaten fully.
The court was told that King, who was the legal owner of the animals, competed nationally as a husky sled racer.
Jeremy Janes, prosecuting, said on the night of March 6, the couple had taken 19 of the dogs to a car park in Ostlers Plantation, a woodland near Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire.
The huskies were to be exercised consecutively in two teams of seven along a three-mile run, while the other five retired animals were to be walked by the couple along with Kyra in her pram.
Mr Janes said the attack took place as King unharnessed the first team of seven dogs at the rear of the van and got the second team of seven dogs ready.
Alcock admitted placing Blizzard, the lead dog of the first team, in the middle of the van to drink some water, and then closing the sliding door of the van, but the passenger door was left open.
She then began to help King with the second team but when she turned around she saw Blizzard on top of Kyra and the pram.
The court heard Alcock went over to Kyra to remove the dog and began CPR on the baby, who had sustained serious head and neck injuries.
King and Alcock were arrested and later charged with owning or being in charge of a dog that was dangerously out of control.
Sentencing the couple, who have since split, Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight said Blizzard had not previously presented any concerns and she was not satisfied the attack was “reasonably foreseeable”.
Instead, she said it was a case of “terrible circumstances aligning”, adding: “This is a tragic case and I have no doubt both of you wish every day that you could turn the clock back.”
“She did an awful thing which neither of you expected and which will weigh heavily on both of you for the rest of your lives,” the judge added.
“Kyra was particularly vulnerable as she was a baby. But you will feel that more than anyone as she was your baby.”
The court heard that social services had visited the couple’s home on two occasions and had decided there were no problems with arrangements at the property, describing it as “spotless”.
Alcock was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 80 hours of work in the community.
King was sentenced to ten months imprisonment suspended for two years because he entered his guilty plea at a later stage, and ordered to carry out 100 hours of work in the community.
Judge Sjolin Knight told the couple an order banning them from owning dogs was not suitable because of the circumstances of the case.
The judge made an order for the destruction of Blizzard after stressing her attack on the baby was something that was not predictable.
Lincolnshire Police previously said Blizzard had been kept in isolation at secure kennels since the incident.