The girlfriend of a 22-year-old man who died this afternoon when he was attacked by a pit bull cross called Trigger has spoken of her devastation over his death, saying she loves him 'so much'.
Jessica Hill told MailOnline that 'no words' could express her sadness after her boyfriend, Liam Hewitson, was bitten by his dog at his house in Preston, Lancashire, at around 3.45pm.
It is thought that Mr Hewitson was suffering from an epileptic fit at the time of the mauling.
'I'm too devastated to speak,' Miss Hill said this evening. 'I just love and miss him so much.'
She also paid tribute to her partner on Facebook, posting a touching collage of them both together.
'My baby boy always and forever,' she wrote under the images.
Paramedics and police were called to the scene in Dundonald Street following the horrific attack.
Mr Hewitson was treated at his house before being rushed to Royal Preston Hospital.
But despite frantic efforts to save his life, he passed away just before 6pm.
The dog was subsequently taken away by handlers and put down by a local vet.
At first, it was thought that the PIT BULL was owned by the victim himself, but police later said they thought it belonged to his girlfriend. However, reports on the dog's ownership remain divided. Neighbours say the animal went by the name of Trigger.
DI Jane Webb, from Preston CID, described the New Year's Day incident as 'tragic'.
'This is a tragic incident in which a man has sadly died,' she said.
She added: 'Enquiries are on-going to establish the exact circumstances and my thoughts very much remain with his family who are being supported by specially trained officers at this time.'
This evening, Mr Hewitson's family and friends were taking to social media to pay tribute to him. One of his relatives, Robert Hewitson, wrote on Facebook: 'Wow cant believe it R.I.P liam hewitson always take the best! Least ur with ur mum now smiling more rest in peace bro. 'Love n gunna miss you! Never forgetten! R.I.P!!!'
His brother, Craig Hewitson, who also owns pi tbulls, added: 'Love you always my brother.'
Stacey Hewitson said: ‘Love you Craig. We will get through this together as a family’
And Chantelle Hewitson, the victim's cousin, wrote: 'Rest In peace little cousin so heartbreaking you with your beautiful mum now Liam rest in paradise love you always xxxx.'
Neighbours also spoke of their shock as relatives gathered at the scene tonight.
Slav Skow, 32, a car mechanic, lived opposite Mr Hewitson and has been friends for five years.
He added: ‘He was a good person – I really liked him. It’s a great tragedy. I just can’t believe what’s happened today, it’s just such a shock for me. It’s a very sad time for me, and for his family. I only got home this morning, and then I hear this - I was so shocked. I’m so sorry for his girlfriend and his family. He was just a neighbour but we are like family. They were kind to me at a very hard time. He helped me a lot when I needed jobs done at home. That dog, six months ago his personality changed--he used to be no problem, but then he started barking very loudly, and not being very nice.'
Tributes to Mr Hewitson also poured in on community Facebook groups.
Mizzy Saeed, 40, a neighbour, said: ‘He was a lovely person. Lived 2 doors away.. Heartbreaking’.
John Rawcliffe said: ‘Thought go out to his family and friends sleep tight mate.’
Others suggested that he was suffering from a fit at the time of the incident – triggering the attack.
Tonight, family and friends were pictured leaving flowers at the scene of the attack. Two bouquets of flowers had been tied to a nearby lamppost as police cars lined the street.
One tribute read: ‘RIP Shaky. Love thoughts are with your family.’
One man, aged 50, said the dog which attacked Liam was a pit bull and staffie cross. The father of three said: ‘I cried my eyes out when I found out. He was my son’s best mate.
‘Liam was a good lad and everybody knew him. He was a lads’ lad. He got into a few scrapes but he was a good lad at heart. I took him under my wing when his mum died.
‘I saw him as my son and I was like a second dad to him. My son is in bits.
‘No one seems to know what happened.’
Friends arrived in taxis to pay their respects.