A 50-year-old Irishman, from Galway, was mauled to death by dogs on a farm in the northern island of Penang, in Malaysia. Maurice Sullivan was staying on the organic farm with his Polish girlfriend taking photographs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance for his family. The owner of the farm, known only as Teoh, has reportedly told local media that he will hand the dogs, which he kept for protection from wild boar and pythons, to the veterinary department.

It is still unclear what caused the dogs to attack Mr Sullivan. Director of the State veterinary department Wan Mohamad Kamil Wan Nik said that the department would monitor the dogs for ten days to look for rabies before they decide what to do with them.

He said this was the first such fatal attack in the state. Mr Sullivan died from severe injuries to his arm, thigh, chin and ears, which were both bitten off.

The farm’s owner said the couple had become friendly with dogs since their arrival. They were seen playing with the two dogs prior to the attack. The couple had just left the Teoh’s hilltop home when the two dogs attacked.

Teoh said “My wife suddenly heard the sound of dogs barking and when we went to Maurice's rescue, it was too late…It never crossed our mind the dogs, which were very friendly with Maurice yesterday, could maul him to death.”