Man killed after 8st Bully dog ‘crushed voice box’ in vicious mauling

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    A "super-breed" dog named "Kong" was discovered licking blood away after savaging a man to death in a public park, an inquest heard.

    Ian Symes 34, was walking the 52kg (8st) American Bully XL when the beast overpowered him and mauled him in the Hampshire park.

    The dog had been bought by Symes' friend Callum Jones for £650 the previous day over Snapchat from travellers.

    READ MORE: UK government to hold 'crisis talks' over huge rise in fatal dog attacks since lockdown

    During the inquest at Portsmouth Coroner's Court, Mr Jones said the dog was bigger than he expected when he bought it, adding: "He did pull quite a lot, I did struggle to walk him, I was a bit worried about that.

    He continued that he warned Symes, who was known as "Wiggy", not to walk Kong, but said that he was returning from his partner's home at 10.20am on August 10 when he discovered his dog had fatally wounded Symes at Fareham Park Recreation Ground.

    He said: "Kong was licking blood and that's when I started freaking out and shouted for help… the dog was so calm and licking him, he didn't seem in an aggressive manner."

    Paul Keltie, who was looking after the dog with Symes, said Kong appeared "friendly" and despite being "very strong", he looked "gentle".

    Local Stacey Marsh said she saw Symes playing with the dog in a "boisterous" way by tapping his cheeks, later telling the animal "that's enough now".

    Julieann Abbott, whose home backs onto the field, said she heard "gurgling" noises 10 minutes before hearing Jones screaming for help.

    The Bully XL — which shares DNA with banned American Pit Bull Terriers — reverted to its "aggressive" natural instincts and repeatedly bit down on Mr Symes' neck after he began playing with it, the court heard.

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    The dog, which had not been "socialised", punctured the man's jugular vein, "crushed his voice box", caused "widespread mangling", and "ragged" him around on the ground.

    During the inquest, animal expert Dr Candy d'Sa, who assessed Kong after the attack, gave a stark warning about the Bully XL breed which she said has been "genetically modified" from pitbulls.

    Dr d'Sa said of the 10 Brits killed by dogs in 2022, five were mauled by the new "super-breed" which has only existed for around 15 years.

    Dr d'Sa said she believed Symes died when "rough play" with Kong quickly turned into "predatory behaviour" and the animal's "prey drive" kicked in.

    Dr Basil Purdue, a Home Office pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination, said: "The cause of death was clearly the result of overwhelming neck injuries in keeping with infliction by a large, powerful dog."

    Kong, who was not an illegal breed but has since been destroyed, had been kept in kennels on the travellers' site and was dehydrated and being toileted on a balcony before being sold.

    Coroner Sarah Whitby returned a narrative conclusion, saying: "Ian was familiar with dogs, but not an expert dog carer."

    The dog weighed 52kgs and was kennel socialised only. 

    This breed is controversial due to its genetic make-up.

    "The dog's characteristics were unknown to the new owner due to the short time he'd been in his care, but he could not hold him on a lead.

    "Kong had not been exercised and it was a hot day," adding: "Mr Symes engaged in some play with Kong, who responded with default behaviour aggression."


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