Home » Man died from ‘catastrophic’ neck injuries after being mauled to death by 52kg XL Bully who had been bought on Snapchat

A MAN died from “catastrophic” neck injuries after being mauled by a 52kg XL Bully dog that had been bought on Snapchat, an inquest heard.

Ian Symes, 34, who was known to friends as “Wiggy” died at a recreation ground in Fareham, Hampshire, after the savage attack on August 10 last year.

Ian Symes, 34, died after being mauled while walking his neighbour's dog


Ian Symes, 34, died after being mauled while walking his neighbour’s dogCredit: Hampshire Police
He was killed by an American XL Bully that weighed more than he did (stock image)


He was killed by an American XL Bully that weighed more than he did (stock image)Credit: Alamy

Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard that Ian had been walking the beast, named Kong, which belonged to his neighbour Callum Jones, before it set upon him.

He suffered “widespread mangling” to his neck after the bite punctured his jugular vein and crushed his voice box.

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

The unfortunate victim, who weighed less than the dog in question, was found unresponsive by cops who rushed to the scene after the attack was reported by a passer by.

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He had apparently grown up owning Rottweilers and had a “good knowledge of large dogs”.

However, even Jones had apparently been “surprised” by how large Kong was after buying him from a traveller group for £650 after seeing an advert on Snapchat.

Kong, who 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.

Jones told the court that he took the dog for a walk then handed him over to Ian, advising him not to try and walk Kong alone, while he went to stay with a girlfriend.

He said of Kong: “The whole way he was just pulling, we had hold of his collar and his lead, but even we struggled to walk him so we decided to take him back. He was just really strong.”

The court also heard “chilling” evidence from dog behaviour expert Dr Candy d’Sa, who detailed Kong’s immense size.

He weighed a whopping 52kg, which is over eight stone, and would have been at face height when standing on his hind legs.

Dr d’Sa added: “During my own assessment, Kong was very easily over-aroused by toys and by play, and that arousal quickly became aggressive.

“Obviously, during my assessment, it was done with expert handling and we were able to stop that aggression from escalating. Mr Symes would not have been able to do that.”

She referred to it as a “super breed” with an “extreme bite force” and said: “I believe Mr Symes was having rough play with Kong. 

“[Kong] became over-aroused and quickly became aggressive. If the dog has not been trained to stop it won’t stop.

“I would think [Mr Symes] fell down quickly which would have increased its predatory drive.”

The expert added that the kennels Kong had been kept in were not suitable, explaining that such breeds need “highly specialised owners”.

American XL Bullies are a newer breed, first recognised by the US United Kennel Club in 2013.

They are known for their size and strength as a “natural extension” of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

XL refers to the dog’s size category, of which there are four: pocket, standard, classic and XL.

It is rare for them to attack humans, but cases have been on the rise as the powerful animal is more than capable of killing.

New figures showed that incidences of dog attacks rose by 34% last year.

Between 2001 and 2021, there was an average of 3.3 dog-related deaths each year but in 2022 that shot up to ten.

A number of high-profile cases have involved XL Bully, such as Shirley Patrick, who died after being mauled at her home in Caerphilly, Wales.

Despite this, the breed isn’t illegal in the UK and remains unrestricted by the 1991 Dangerous Dogs act.

Coroner Sarah Whitby returned a narrative conclusion, saying: “[Ian] was familiar with dogs, but not an expert dog carer. The dog weighed 52 kilograms 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.

“Mr Symes engaged in some play with Kong, who responded with default behaviour aggression.”

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