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Dad of Ryan Busa killed by family dog to sue PSNI over arrest

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Marek Busa and his son Ryan Busa

Marek Busa and his son Ryan Busa

Marek Busa and his son Ryan Busa

The father of a 10-year-old Co Antrim boy who was mauled to death by the family dog says he is suing the PSNI for his "damaging" arrest in connection to the tragedy.

Ryan Busa, a pupil at Ashgrove Primary School in Glengormley, died at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast on October 15, 2017.

His father Marek issued a statement following a two-day inquest into Ryan's death which concluded the youngster had been fatally attacked by the family's German Shepherd, Max.

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.

On Tuesday Mr Busa, a Tesco worker, said he felt the loss of his son very deeply.

"The past two-and-a-half years have been very difficult for our family," he said.

"Ryan was my best friend and I think about him every day. Life will never be the same without him."

Thanking Coroner Suzanne Anderson for her inquest ruling, the father stressed his ordeal was not over.

"Unfortunately this matter is not yet finished for me as I will be suing the PSNI as a result of their damaging decision to arrest and detain me," continued Mr Busa.

The statement added that his legal team, Seamus McIlroy and Sarah Wilson at MSM Law, would be pursuing the matter "in the coming months".

In response, a PSNI spokesperson said it will examine the coroner's findings "in due course" and said it would be "inappropriate to comment further at present".

During the first day of the inquest, held in Newtownards Courthouse, Mr Busa became visibly upset when he was asked by Mr McIlroy how he felt at being arrested following Ryan's death.

"It was like I was being treated like a criminal," he said.

Mr Busa, who is originally from Slovakia, also recalled the frantic attempt he made to save his son's life by using CPR as he waited for the emergency services to arrive.

He had discovered Ryan lying unconscious and covered in blood in the kitchen of their home that he shared with his other young son.

The coroner also heard Mr Busa insist that Max, who he had owned from around six months old, had been a "part of our family" and had never displayed any "growling or biting" behaviour.

On Tuesday the inquest heard from an animal behavioural expert who observed the Alsation following the attack.

Sandra Gilliland said on the day of the assessment she witnessed signs of the dog displaying "fearful behaviour" such as "visible trembling" and a "hunched back".

However, Ms Gilliland noted that the animal "showed no aggression throughout the assessment".

The animal behavioural expert also revealed that, based on her observation, Max had been "significantly underweight", adding that she had been informed by police that Max had been fed "half a tin of dog food and scraps" a day.

When asked by the coroner's counsel, Ronan Daly, if this information "if correct, would be significant", she replied: "Yes." "If Max was hungry, irritable, it would reduce his tolerance to things in his environment," explained Ms Gilliland.

During questioning by Mr McIlroy, she confirmed she made her report based only on her observations of the animal without weighing it, as well as information from the PSNI.

Ms Gilliland agreed with Mr McIlroy that in matters in relation to the anatomy of a canine it was "outside" her area of expertise, which is dog behaviour.

"Dogs don't very often attack out of the blue," she added.

Mr McIlory then referred to a report compiled by Professor Lorenzo Ressel, a senior lecturer in veterinary pathology at the University of Liverpool, who carried out an examination of the animal after it had been put down.

The professor's findings had concluded the pet's body was in "good condition" and showed no "clear signs of neglect or injury".

Nor had there been anything detected on a pathological level in its brain that would explain why the dog attacked Ryan.

The report noted that weight around the time of the dog's death had been close to 30kg, which the professor deemed to be within the healthy weight band of between 30 to 40kgs.

The inquest had previously heard from a veterinary surgeon who recorded its weight to be 31.1kg, adding a dog of the same breed in "peak health" would weigh between 37 and 40kgs.

Coroner Anderson offered her condolences to Mr Busa, adding the public could learn from this "tragic case". "There is a lesson to be learned from Ryan's death," she said. "Babies, toddlers and children should never be left alone with a dog."

Belfast Telegraph