Northern Ireland

Man had ear bitten off after intervening in Newry street fight

Belfast High Court
Image caption Christopher Murray faces charges of grievous bodily harm with intent and three counts of common assault

A man's ear was bitten off after he tried to stop an attack in Newry, the High Court heard today.

Although the ear was recovered surgeons could not reattach it due to the amount of dead flesh, prosecutors said.

The victim now faces a six-month wait before any corrective surgery can be attempted.

The details emerged as a university student accused of inflicting the injuries last weekend was granted bail to live outside the city.

Christopher Murray faces charges of grievous bodily harm with intent and three counts of common assault.

The 30-year-old, of Damolly Village, Newry, denies biting the ear off and claims he was himself attacked by a mob.

A lawyer for the prosecution said the alleged attack happened early on 5 December in the Ashgrove Avenue area.

A car pulled up to three friends who had left a nightclub, the court heard.

It was claimed that Murray got out of the passenger side and started to beat all three repeatedly.

Mr Maguire said their friend arrived and was dragged to the ground after he tried to intervene to stop the fight.

The court heard his friends pulled the accused off the man when he called for help.

"As they did so they noticed that he was covered in blood, as was the applicant's face," the prosecution lawyer said.

Contestable points

"At this point they realised (the alleged victim's) ear had been severed from his head, and they presumed it had been bitten off by the applicant given the nature and spread of the blood."

The injured man was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital and then transferred to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald for corrective surgery.

The lawyer said that when police attended the scene they located the ear on a snow-covered grass verge.

"That was bagged and taken to Daisy Hill Hospital. However, given the amount of dead flesh on the ear surgeons were unable to reattach it.

"It will take some six months before any corrective surgery can be attempted to repair the ear area."

The court heard that Murray later went to police to claim he had been dragged from his car by up to 10 youths who punched and kicked him until he lost consciousness.

He alleged that he was subjected to a serious assault and his girlfriend, who was also in the vehicle, was sexually molested.

A defence lawyer said Murray was adamant that he had not bitten the victim's ear or instigated any violence.

He pointed out that his client had also received hospital treatment for injuries, including a bite mark to his own shoulder

He added that a further incident allegedly occurred involving others, and argued that there were a number of contestable points in the case.

It was also disclosed that Murray is currently studying for a degree in English and History at the University of Ulster.

Granting bail, Lord Justice Girvan said: "It obviously was one of those street fracas where at the end of the day the court is going to have to decide who was the aggressor and who was the victim."

He ordered Murray to live at an address in Belfast, banned him from entering Newry and imposed both a curfew and electronic tagging.

A £1,000 cash surety was also required as part of the release conditions.