Northern Ireland

Teacher denies biting pub doorman's finger

A west Belfast teacher has denied biting off part of a doorman's finger during a fight in a pub.

Anthony Austin, 45, of Garnock Hill, is accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent in July 2007.

Mr Austin told Belfast Crown Court he intervened between the doorman, Patrick McDonnell, and a colleague as they were forcibly ejecting his brother from McEnaney's bar.

He said he had no part in causing Mr McDonnell's injury.

The jury has previously heard Mr McDonnell allege that after an argument involving a number of men over a pint of beer, he was in the process of ejecting the teacher when the top part of his little finger on his left hand was bitten off.

'Squaring up'

Mr Austin, who has been a PE and Religious Studies teacher for 20 years, claimed on Monday he knew nothing about the argument as he was at the other end of the bar at the time.

He said he saw his brother Mark and the other doorman "squaring up" before Mr McDonnell "rushed" his brother outside.

He said when he went to see what happened, he found his brother lying on the floor in the hallway with a bouncer "straddling him with his knee on his chest and punching him".

The teacher said he got in between them to protect his brother.

Under cross-examination from the prosecution he confirmed that during police questioning, he had told officers the doorman had grabbed him by the throat and had his hands in his mouth.

He told the lawyer this was not true, adding "I don't know" why he had said it.

The lawyer suggested to him: "Isn't it as plain as the nose on your face, you bit this man's finger?"

He replied: "No, I didn't - I didn't do it whatsoever."

The trial continues.

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