Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Irish soldier 'bit part of man's nose off in row'

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An Irish soldier bit off part of a man's nose in a row over urinating outside a takeaway shop, the High Court heard today.

But Barry Fitzgerald, who has served on peacekeeping missions around the world, denies any racial element to the incident in Derry, his lawyer stressed.

The 24-year-old, with an address at Foxhill in the city, faces a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

He was granted bail on condition that he stays out of Derry and surrenders his passport.

Prosecutors claimed Fitzgerald launched his attack after being challenged about urinating in the street near Waterloo Place on April 14.

It was alleged that he leaned into a car and bit the victim on the face and back.

A judge was told part of the nose was bitten off and had to be surgically reattached.

During a subsequent struggle Fitzgerald allegedly punched the injured man's head up to ten times.

According to a prosecution lawyer he admitted to police having bitten the victim, calling him a "foreign c***".

She confirmed officers were treating the attack as racially motivated.

Fitzgerald has made a counter-allegation of having been threatened and assaulted.

His barrister, Paul Kearney, said he suffered hearing loss and tinnitus due to punches received.

Mr Kearney confirmed Fitzgerald accepted carrying out the biting but emphatically denies making any racial comment.

He revealed that his client has been in the Irish Army for seven years, following on from his father and grandfather in a line of family service.

Fitzgerald is currently suspended from duties, with his military career on hold until the case is dealt with.

But rejecting the racist allegations, Mr Kearney said: "This is a man who has served in war zones and peacekeeping missions all over the world.

"He has been committed to all sorts of nations, creeds and colours."

Granting bail, Mr Justice Treacy described the alleged offence as "dreadful" but ruled that any any risk of interference with the case can be avoided.

The judge ordered Fitzgerald to live at an address just across the border in Co Donegal.

He also imposed a £1,000 cash surety and a ban on any contact with the alleged victim.

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