Man, 34, mauled to death by dog in Hampshire park

·3-min read
Dog kills man, 34, in Hampshire park - Ian 'Wiggy' Symes/Facebook
Dog kills man, 34, in Hampshire park - Ian 'Wiggy' Symes/Facebook

A 34-year-old man has died after being mauled by a dog in a park.

Ian Symes, known to friends as Wiggy, was said to have been walking a dog at a recreation ground near his home in Fareham, Hampshire, when he was killed on Wednesday morning.

He was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering horrific injuries to his face, according to eyewitnesses.

Hampshire Constabulary said a 20-year-old man from Fareham had been arrested on suspicion of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control, before being released under investigation.

On Friday evening it remained unclear whether the dog which attacked Mr Symes had been one he was walking or whether another dog had been involved.

His social media profiles showed that he was passionate about dogs, with regular pictures posted of him posing next to his pet Rottweilers.

Residents in the neighbourhood described how Mr Symes would regularly do odd jobs and walk people’s dogs for them.

Mr Symes’s brother, Martin, visited the park, where flowers and messages have since been laid.

He later wrote his own tribute on social media, which said: “The past 30 hours have been pretty shocking and very hard to really understand what happened and why.

“Crazy to think of all the memories I had playing football on that field and the laughs I had in the school just got wiped from the situation that happened.”

Dog kills man, 34, in Hampshire park - Ian 'Wiggy' Symes/Facebook
Dog kills man, 34, in Hampshire park - Ian 'Wiggy' Symes/Facebook

He added: “The facts are he was out walking a dog, something he loved to do, and as sad as it is at least he passed away doing something he loved.

“I’m not overly religious but I do believe you go to a better place, and no doubt he’ll be up there already walking his dogs.”

‘It won’t be the same without you’

Tributes left at the scene paid a fond tribute to Mr Symes.

One said: “Remembering the fondest memories of growing up together. It won’t be the same round here without you. Keep on strutting, lots of love.”

Another said: “Shine bright you beautiful human being. Fly high Wiggy. Always in my heart and never forgotten. All my love forever and a day.”

A woman who lived near the park - who asked not to be named - said she had been friends with Mr Symes since childhood and had been told of his death by his father.

She said: “I heard he was out walking a dog, but it wasn’t his dog that attacked him. It is just such a shock... He was so well-liked and he was really nice to me.”

A father-of-two, who only gave his name as Oliver, said he was looking after his children who were playing in the back garden of their semi-detached home when they rushed inside, excited by a helicopter they had seen.

“We saw the air ambulance... Our children were out in the garden and they ran inside saying, ‘helicopter, helicopter’,” he said.

“We only know what we have heard from other people.”

He added: “The rec is a very popular place for walking dogs.”

The attack happened at Fareham Park Recreation Ground by a residential road in the south coast town at around 10.30am on Wednesday.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: “We are speaking to people in the area and carrying out other lines of enquiry to establish how the man died.

“As part of our enquiries a 20-year-old man from Fareham has been arrested on suspicion of being the owner/person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury resulting in death.

“He has been released from custody without charge but remains under investigation while enquiries continue.”