A DAD has spoken of his heartbreak after his family’s beloved dog was found dead at the side of the road after escaping while being cared for by a friend.

Sophoullis Kyriacou and his daughter Nikki left their pug Neville with the friend while Nikki, who has a muscle weakening condition, was undergoing a blood transfusion at a hospital in Oxford.

But four days later Neville was discovered dead on the Hapton bypass just yards from junction eight of the M65.

Now Mr Kyriacou, of Sunny Bower Close, Blackburn, has been awarded £1,000 after taking the case to the county court.

Victoria Powles, who was looking after Neville when he escaped, described the incident as a ‘freak accident’ and said she was ‘very sorry for what happened’.

Mr Kyriacou, 54, said they had owned five-year-old Neville, who was a sixth generation pug, since he was a puppy.

He said: “She told us she would look after him and would not take her eyes off him.

“My daughter was in hospital and she had asked them to send a daily picture of him.

“Three days after we had dropped him off we received a picture at 11.15am and he looked miserable so Nikki tried to contact them.

“Normally they would reply straight away but we had no reply and started to worry.At 7pm I got a phone call to say he had gone missing and had been missing since 10am.”

Mr Kyriacou said they put an appeal out on Facebook but he got a phone call the next day from the council’s highway department to say Neville had been found on the bypass.

Mr Kyriacou, whose wife Maggie died five years ago, said: “Everybody was crying when we found out. Neville was very close to us.

“After Maggie died I do not know what I would have done without him. When I was down he would lift me up.

“He saved me from insanity.

“If I was crying he would jump up and lick my tears away.

“He could see I was upset. He meant the world to us.

“For him to end up underneath a car or a wagon. Was he left there for an hour or two until his heart stopped?

“I just hope he died instantly. It is horrible to think about it.

“When we picked him up we were sobbing out hearts out. We have had him buried in the front garden.”

Ms Powles was ordered to pay £1,000 in the County Court in Burnley.

She said: “It was a freak accident that we did not see coming. I loved that dog to bits.

“I do not know how he got out, but it happened and I’m very sorry that they lost him.

“I want to offer my condolences.”