Dog walker’s ‘traumatic’ cause of death revealed at inquest after mauling in park
A woman mauled by eight dogs she was walking in a Surrey beauty spot died of “multiple penetrating bites” to her neck, a court has heard.
Natasha Johnston, 28, suffered shock and haemorrhage when she was attacked on 12 January in Gravelly Hill, Caterham, Surrey Coroner’s Court was told on Tuesday.
At the opening of an inquest into her death, coroner Simon Wickens expressed his “sincere condolences” to Ms Johnston’s family “and all those touched by her life”.
Police seized the eight dogs in the wake of the attack, but confirmed that none of them were banned breeds. They continue to be held for forensic tests.
The coroner said on Tuesday: “A post-mortem examination was carried out at Royal Surrey County Hospital on 18 January.
“The medical cause of death (was) given as 1a) shock and haemorrhage... and in 1b) the pathologist places multiple penetrating dog bites to her neck. The reason for the inquest required is the nature of the traumatic injuries.”
Mr Wickens formally recognised the family of Ms Johnston, who was from Surrey, as interested persons in the proceedings.
“I offer Natasha’s family and indeed all those touched by her life my sincere condolences,” he said.
A date of 29 June was set for the inquest to begin but the coroner added it could be subject to change.
The hearing comes after police said no-one will be prosecuted over the fatal incident.
In a statement previously issued through police, Ms Johnston’s family said they were going through “an extremely difficult time” dealing with her loss.
“This is an extremely difficult time for us and as well as dealing with this sudden loss in our family, the significant level of media interest and the graphic nature of some of the reporting, has been a source of additional distress,” the statement said.
“We continue to appeal for our privacy to be respected during our time of grief.”
It was previously reported that the victim had been mauled to death by the “frenzied pack of dogs” she was hired to walk.
She is also reported to have screamed “go back” to two women on horseback who chanced upon the attack in Surrey before she was killed.
Owners of dogs that injure someone may be sent to prison for up to five years or fined or both.
Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Josephine Horner said: “This is a tragic incident in which a young woman lost her life.
“I know it has caused real concern locally and I thank the community for bearing with us whilst we conducted our inquiries.
“The criminal investigation has now concluded and the information we have gathered will be passed to the Surrey Coroner to assist in the coronial process.
“The dogs continue to be cared for at private kennels to ensure their welfare and their owners are being kept informed. We appreciate this is a difficult and uncertain process for them as the forensic work continues.”