Dan Brandon is a 31-year-old animal lover who owned ten snakes and 12 tarantulas at his family home in Church Crookham, Hampshire. But unfortunately, Dan was found dead by his father after failing to come downstairs for dinner. It has been reported that his 8-foot long African rock python was the reason for his death.
Dan may very well be the first person in Britain to have been killed by a python. He owned snakes for up to 16 years and was the handler of ‘Tiny,’ an 8 foot 4-inch long python, since she could fit in the palm of his hand.
Pathologist Dr. Adman al-Badri determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation after he found a hemorrhage behind one eye, burst blood vessels and congested lungs, all of which are signs of asphyxiation.
Dan’s parents, Babs and Derek Brandon, became concerned after hearing a loud bang and then not getting a response from their son. When his father, Derek, went upstairs to check on him he was face down on the floor, according to the Daily Mail.
Paramedics arrived at the Brandon house eight minutes later but were unable to revive him. According to the Daily Mail, Dan’s father told the inquest: ‘nobody saw Tiny until later; she had hidden under a box that Dan used to put all his snake stuff in and she had found a way under there and was coiled up.’
It was in court where Dan’s mother revealed how much her son loved Tiny and how Dan never felt threatened by the giant snake despite knowing her immense strength. The court also heard that there were no bite or puncture marks on Dan which is an indication that there was no aggression from Tiny.
Babs Brandon, Dan’s mother, told the inquest: ‘she was his baby and she loved him. She could be temperamental, if she didn’t want to be held she would pretend to strike or hiss but she never felt threatened by him and he loved her. She was alright with me if it was just me in the room, but if I went in his room and he was there she would start striking as if to say ‘leave him alone”
A reptile expert named John Cooper went to inspect the African rock python at the Brandon home and found no scratches on the snake’s skin. He surmised that if Tiny had wrapped around Dan’s neck, Dan would have tried to peel her off.
It was in court where John Cooper said that Dan was ‘obviously experienced’ at handling reptiles but he ‘would have known how to unwrap a python.’
Professor John Cooper said: ‘I examined her the best I could. I thought if she is part of the investigation, she should be part of the evidence properly. I just wish this was done sooner, the snake should have been checked immediately. Then I looked around the room and wanted to see what the house was like. Mr. Brandon was obviously an experienced herbatologist and had a good relationship with these animals. He had been keeping snakes for 16 years and it showed.’
He went on to say that snakes are usually more aggressive during the time when they shed their skin but when he took an x-ray of Tiny’s skin it revealed that she was no going through this period.
According to the Daily Mail, Coroner Andrew Bradley said that he doesn’t believe that Tiny acted out of malice or aggression. He says that since there aren’t any bite marks and any other obvious signs of cause of death he believes that she ‘coiled [around] him.’
He added: ‘The most likely scenario is Tiny was engaged with Dan and I have no doubt she was coiled around him and there is a point where she either takes hold of him unexpectedly or tripped him up or some other mechanism. And she then makes off, maybe because of the shock of him falling over or because of his reaction.’
He continued: ‘we have nothing apart from Tiny so I have to accept she is instrumental in Dan’s death. I do not believe in any way it was aggression from Tiny nor a confrontation, if anything, it was a show of affection, a moment of peace. There was no aggression, this was an affectionate relationship and if there was any contact it would have only been for affection.’
Dan’s friend, John Cottrell, set up an online fundraiser at JustGiving, in Dan Brandon’s memory in order to raise money for the WWF animal charity.