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Dad of Ryan Busa (10) who was killed by the family dog tells inquest of final moments


Marek Busa leaving court

Marek Busa leaving court

Freddie Parkinson

Ryan Busa with his father Marek Busa

Ryan Busa with his father Marek Busa

Marek Busa leaving court

The father of a 10-year-old Co Antrim boy who was mauled to death by the family dog has recalled the distressing moment he found his son lying unconscious and covered in blood.

Ryan Busa, a pupil at Ashgrove Primary School in Glengormley, died at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children on October 15, 2017.

He died as a result of "multiple severe injuries" after he was attacked by a German Shepherd dog, named Max.

On Monday his father Marek Busa gave evidence at the first day of an inquest into the schoolboy's death, held in Newtownards Courthouse and presided over by Coroner Suzanne Anderson.

Mr Busa had been arrested and questioned on suspicion of murder as part of a PSNI investigation into the child's death, but was later told by the Public Prosecution Service that he would not face any charges.

Mr Busa - who appeared in the witness box with an interpreter - revealed he had returned home from working a night shift at Tesco around 6am on the morning of his son's death.

"The two boys were home," he told the coroner's counsel, Mr Ronan Daly.

"I drove home... came into the kitchen and let the dog outside."

Explaining this was a normal routine occurrence to allow the dog out to go to the toilet, he added that he and his sons then enjoyed breakfast together.

At that stage, Max had returned indoors.

Mr Busa said he then fell asleep upstairs around 8am.

Revealing he had owned Max for three years, since the dog was around six months old, he said the pet had been a "part of our family".

Mr Daly asked the shop worker if he ever had "any issues" with the German Shepherd, such as "growling, biting", to which Mr Busa replied: "Max would bark, like every other dog."

Mr Daly then asked the witness about a previous statement he had made to police that Max could be "unfriendly, if you didn't know him".

In response, Mr Busa insisted there were no unusual signs from the animal.

"Every dog is like that," said Mr Busa.

Mr Daly added: "Was Max seen to have had a good relationship with the children?" Mr Busa replied: "Yes... He was part of the family."

Mr Busa, whose relationship with the mother of his sons ended in 2011, explained he woke up at roughly around noon.

He then walked downstairs where he discovered Ryan unresponsive and lying covered in blood in the kitchen.

An emotional Mr Busa, who is originally from Slovakia, recalled the harrowing moment he performed CPR on his son as he waited for the emergency services to arrive.

"I tried to do my best. I tried to save his life... I did as much as I could," he told the inquest.

The coroner heard that as Ryan was rushed to hospital, "no signs of life" were detected by paramedics.

Mr Busa's solicitor Seamus McIlroy asked his client how he felt at being arrested following Ryan's death - at which the father became visibly upset. "It was like I was being treated like a criminal," he said.

Dr James Lyness, state pathologist for Northern Ireland, outlined the extent of Ryan's horrific injuries in a post-mortem examination report.

It stated that the child had sustained "multiple lacerations... bruises and abrasions" which were consistent with "major animal bites and animal claws".

These were found on the upper half of Ryan's body, including the youngster's neck.

The state pathologist concluded that death would have occurred at a "fairly rapid" rate, noting the cause to be "neck injuries due to dog bites".

Ryan's mother Renata Bilaninova was not present at yesterday's hearing but a statement submitted to the inquest on her behalf revealed that she had misgivings about her ex-partner getting the pet.

"I thought the dog was too big for the boys," she insisted. She added that she was aware that Ryan, who she said wanted to be a police officer when he grew up, would have played with Max.

The inquest also heard from a veterinary surgeon who examined Max following the attack.

Natasha Melbourne said the German Shepherd at the time of the incident weighed 31.1kg.

She noted that a dog of the same breed in "peak health" would weigh between 37 and 40kgs.

In her statement, the veterinary expert also described Max's coat as being in "poor condition" and that the canine had been suffering from dermatitis, a condition which would have caused the dog to "constantly... scratch or chew the affected areas".

This would have required "regular veterinary attention", added Ms Melbourne.

The inquest continues today.

Belfast Telegraph