A keen snake handler died of asphyxiation in the bedroom of his home in Church Crookham, Hampshire, last August - making him the first person in Britain to be killed by a python.

The 2.4m python Tiny that crushed Dan Brandon in a "show of affection" after it escaped from its case was kept by the animal lover's mother, it was revealed today.

Babs Brandon said Dan kept 10 snakes and 12 tarantulas in his room and had Tiny, an African rock python which was his "baby", since she was small enough to fit in his hand, according to the Daily Mail.

Tiny is now believed to be in the care of Babs Brandon, who said she is now looking after all of her son's snakes. The snake was examined by a reptile expert at the Brandons' home in November.

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Coroner Andrew Bradley recorded a verdict of misadventure at Basingstoke Coroners' Court today, saying: "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."

Bradley said the snake then hid, probably "because of the shock of him falling or because of his reaction".

He added 31-year-old Brandon was asphyxiated "as a result of contact with Tiny", and that he "cannot see any other reason" for the death on August 25 last year.

Brandon's parents, brother and sister were in court, and Babs Brandon told the coroner the snake loved her son, was his "baby", and that he never felt threatened by Tiny but was aware of how strong she was.

Dan Brandon's social media profiles reveals photos of him with his pets, including one of a huge Burmese python draped over his body. Photo / Facebook
Dan Brandon's social media profiles reveals photos of him with his pets, including one of a huge Burmese python draped over his body. Photo / Facebook

Pathologist Dr Adman al-Badri said his diagnosis of asphyxiation was one he came to by exclusion, but said what he found included a haemorrhage behind one eye, plus burst blood vessels, and congested lungs - another sign of asphyxiation.

He told the court he examined the neck muscles and "dissected them layer by layer" and that there were "no specific signs on his neck".

al-Badri said Brandon was "obviously fit and healthy" and had "no disease whatsoever".

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The court also heard how there were no bite marks or puncture wounds caused by a snake discovered on his body, and Bradley ruled there was no aggression from the python.

Reptile expert Professor John Cooper said he examined Tiny at the Brandons' home in November and measured her at 2.4m.

Describing Brandon, who had kept snakes for 16 years, as someone who was "obviously experienced" at caring for tropical creatures, he told the court he "would have known how to unwrap a python".

Inspecting the skin, which Tiny shed later that November, Cooper said if the snake had coiled around Brandon, there would have been scratches visible on the skin caused by him trying to get her off - of which there were none.

He said African rock pythons are "rather more temperamental", but "got to know their handlers", and that if Brandon had been bitten by the snake, it "would have been obvious".

The court heard how there were no bite marks or puncture wounds caused by a snake discovered on his body. Photo / Facebook
The court heard how there were no bite marks or puncture wounds caused by a snake discovered on his body. Photo / Facebook

Cooper said: "Dan clearly loved his animals and was obviously an expert herbatologist. I visited the family and was given a very warm welcome, it was a chance to see Tiny and talk to his friends.

"I went up to the bedroom and we took Tiny out to have a chance to look at her closely. She was 8ft 4ins, around 2ft smaller than was originally reported in much of the press.

"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.

"When snakes shed their skin they leave what we call a 'sluff'. I examined this very carefully using an X-ray and it showed she was in good condition.

"Snakes tend to be more aggressive when they are going through this 'sluff' period, but there is no evidence to suggest that she was going through this at this point in time.

"When I was at Bristol University all those years ago, my own rock python struck me in the face and took three of my teeth.

"I was a celebrity for a small while it was reported. This was because it is so unusual for an animal like this to react in this way, that is why it made the news."

The hearing was told how the landscaper had enjoyed a few cans of lager after finishing work and his parents heard a loud bang from his room.

They called him for dinner but became concerned when he failed to come downstairs.

Tearful Babs Brandon told the inquest: "I heard a crash from upstairs and I thought he had knocked something over, I assumed it was his dumbbells.

Paramedics arrived at their home eight minutes later but despite their best efforts Mr Brandon could not be saved. Photo / Facebook
Paramedics arrived at their home eight minutes later but despite their best efforts Mr Brandon could not be saved. Photo / Facebook

"We shouted for dinner at 7.15pm and as he didn't answer my husband went upstairs. He then called me up as he thought he had fallen asleep, which does happen quite a bit.

"I went up and he was face down on the floor. He felt a little bit cold. There were 10 snakes and 12 tarantulas all away in the vivarium but I could not see Tiny.

"At that point I shook him to try and wake him up and called 999. 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."

Paramedics arrived at their home eight minutes later but despite their best efforts Brandon could not be saved.

Babs Brandon said of Tiny: "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'."

His mother added: "I would hear Dan shouting sometimes, saying 'for goodness sake Tiny' and I would shout back upstairs, 'they are deaf Dan'."

She still looks after the snakes and showed off a bite she had on her hands that another snake gave her 10 days ago.

She added: "If Tiny had bitten Dan before strangling him there would have been a much bigger bite mark on him than this one."

Bradley said the snake may have "unexpectedly got hold of him" or caused him to trip.

He said: "I don't believe there was any aggression on Dan's part or on Tiny's part, the absence of bite marks is significant here.

"The most likely scenario is Tiny was engaged with Dan and I have no doubt she was coiled round him and there is a point where she either takes hold of him unexpectedly or tripped him up or some other mechanism.

Mr Brandon posted photos of himself on social media with his pets including a huge Burmese python. Photo / Facebook
Mr Brandon posted photos of himself on social media with his pets including a huge Burmese python. Photo / Facebook

"And she then makes off, maybe because of the shock of him falling over or because of his reaction.

"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.'"

A statement from Babs Brandon, made on behalf of the family, said: "Five months ago we lost a son, brother, uncle, best mate, friend and drinking buddy and one of the funniest people you could wish to know.

"I cry every day and I relive it all the time, all the family have wanted is answers and I do not know even if we have that."

Brandon posted photos of himself on social media with his pets including a huge Burmese python.

Friend John Cottrell set up a JustGiving fundraising page in Brandon's memory which has raised £485 ($941) for the WWF animal charity.

He wrote: "On August 25, Dan unexpectedly passed away at home.

"He was obsessed with snakes, spiders, birds and all wildlife, in his memory we have set up two fundraising pages, one for WWF and one for RSPB.

"We have struggled when looking for photos for his funeral to find any when he isn't holding a spider, snake, small bird, toad, slow worm, hedgehog, feeding a fox, stroking cattle, befriending a cat or dog so these charities seemed the perfect choice. In memory of you Dan.... who we will all miss SO much."