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Happier times. Dell puts Dave through his paces just prior to the second lockdown

A 54-year-old Whitechapel man has been mauled and then eaten by a circus lion that he was attempting to tame in his backyard.

Toby Dell, a lion-tamer for 22 years, had just returned to work after being furloughed during the health crisis by Sofia Dee’s Circus, his employers for the last 10 years.

Dell’s wife, Tracy, 52, who found her husband’s remains, told The Whelk: “Toby was really excited about going back to work after a long lay-off and decided to get some lion-taming practice in with our own pet lion, Dave, who lives in a converted shed in our back garden

“I came home from shopping and found some of Toby’s bones strewn around the yard along with his tunic and boots that Dave must have spat out after eating him.

“I’d forgotten to give Dave his breakfast this morning so it’s probably down to that. I feel a bit guilty now, to be honest.

“Only last week, I told him to pack in the lion-taming and take up a safer profession but he told me he loved his job and would carry on until his dying day.

“Now, those words have come back to bite him in the arse. Quite literally in his case”

Circus-owner and Dell’s employer, Sofia Dee, told us: “I can’t believe he’s gone.

“We’ve been paying twenty per cent of his wages for the last year, not to mention his national insurance contributions.

“I just hope we can claim some of it back from the social security”

Mr Dell’s remains will hopefully be interred at Mile End Cemetary next week, although it largely depends on how soon Dave has a bowel movement.