Dexter Neal
Dexter Neal died after being bitten while playing with a friend in Halstead, Essex, in August 2016. Essex Police

A woman has pleaded guilty to owning a dangerously out of control dog which mauled a three-year-old boy to death in Essex.

Dexter Neal died after he was attacked by an American Bulldog, while playing with a friend in Parker Way, Halstead, at around 5.40pm on 18 August 2016.

The dog, named Ruby, was later destroyed and Jade Dunne, 29, formerly from Parker Way but now living in Colchester, was arrested.

Dunne, reportedly a mother-of-four, appeared before magistrates in Colchester on Tuesday (18 April) where she admitted a single charge of owning a dog that was dangerously out of control causing injury resulting in death.

Angela Hughes, for the Crown, told the court that the dog was usually kept away from Neal because he was scared, Essex Live reported.

The court heard how the animal attacked the toddler after growling at him and then bit him on the back of the neck.

People at the address and neighbours were forced to pull the dog off the child, the court was told.

Neal, who lived in nearby Ronald Road, was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge but suffered 'several' cardiac arrests due to loss of blood and died shortly after arriving.

Magistrates also heard how the same dog had previously attacked and bitten other dogs.

Dexter Neal
Dexter Neal died from his injuries after he was attacked by a dog while at his friend's house Facebook

Dunne was released on bail until a sentencing hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on 16 May.

At the time of Neal's death family and friends of the boy paid tribute, describing him as "a lovely, happy little boy".

They said: "When Dexter was born our family became complete and we were happier than we could ever have imagined.

"Watching him grow into such a happy joyful child made every day a pleasure and we felt honoured to have him in our lives.

"Our lives will never be the same without Dexter, he was the life and soul of our family. Our hearts have been broken and can never be fixed.

"We now have to learn to continue our lives without our cheeky little boy and remember the joy and happiness he brought us in the short time he was allowed to be with us.

"We love you baby boy always and forever."

After the tragedy, Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell called for "a complete review" of the Dangerous Dogs Act.