A MAN died after being bitten 42 times during a savage dog attack, an inquest heard.

Barry Walsh, 43, was found dead in his bedsit in Valkerie Road, Westcliff, by girlfriend Purdey Clarke.

He had been mauled some time before by her Staffordshire bull terrier, Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard.

He had suffered 42 bites, including one so ferocious it broke his shin and five broken ribs.

However, he had bled to death internally after his spleen was ruptured by a blunt force trauma to his chest.

Miss Clarke told the inquest she had left Mr Walsh in the flat with her dog, Gypsy, after the couple had a row on January 7.

Initially, she had told police she had been only away for half an hour, but at the inquest she admitted she had been away for two days. She said: “He slapped me round the face and my dog bit him. She was scared and she attacked him.

“He held her up by her front legs and was going to go like this (pulling them apart).”

She added: “I left and Gypsy didn’t come out with me. It was very unusual for her not to come out with me.”

She told the coroner she returned to find Mr Clarke dead on a mattress.

However Det Supt Lucy Morris, who had investigated the death, told the inquest it was unclear exactly what had happened, as Miss Clarke had never given a coherent account of the incident.

The dog was “running riot”

when police arrived, she added.

Because it had a history of violence, Miss Clarke signed it ownership to the police, so it could be put down.

Consultant forensic pathologist Benjamin Swift told the court the blunt force which ruptured Mr Walsh’s spleen could have been caused by him falling on furniture, though said that could not be certain.

Recording an open verdict, coroner Caroline Beesley-Murray said there were “bits of the jigsaw missing” in the evidence.

Since Mr Walsh and the dog were alone in the room at the time, she had no choice but to record the open verdict.

She added “We will never, ever, know or ever be entirely clear what happened.

“He was clearly much loved and it’s good to see all his familymembers here at the inquest.

“I hope you will be able to look back on the happy memories you have of him.”


FIVE members of Barry Walsh’s family travelled from Ireland to attend the inquest – only to leave with more questions than answers because of Miss Clarke’s inconsistent testimony.

A sixth relative from London was also at the hearing. None was prepared to comment on the proceedings.

However, all were visibly upset by Purdey Clarke’s evidence, and frustrated at the way her story changed.

When coroner invited the family to question Det Supt Lucy Morris one relative asked: “She made a call to someone in a pub after it happened.

Who would ring somebody else first before the ambulance?”

Describing Mr Walsh’s fondness for dogs, even pitbulls, the relative added: “Barry was always into dogs, he actually had pitbulls in Ireland so a dog like that wouldn’t have frightened him.”

The inquest was told Mr Walsh was a chronic alcoholic. In January, Southend homeless charity Harp spokesman Stephen Coyler told the Echo it had helped him get off the streets before he moved into the Westcliff flat.

He said: “Barry was only involved with us for a few weeks to find accommodation, but the staff have said he was an absolutely exemplary service user and a really nice, very polite, guy.”