A 24-year-old man who bit the ear off another man during a brawl in a Belfast nightclub has been ordered to pay his victim £2,500 compensation.
Stephen James Mulligan, from Malone Avenue in the city, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court yesterday where he pleaded guilty to a charge of causing grievous bodily harm to Ian Harper.
After listening to the evidence, Judge Philip Babington said that due to the amount of drink taken by all those involved in the fracas, it was difficult to determine what actually happened in the club in the early hours of August 20, 2006.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Crawford told the court that several incidents between a group Mulligan’s friends and a group of Mr Harper’s friends took place as they both partied in the Venue nightclub.
Following a fracas on the dancefloor involving a number of people Mr Crawford said it appeared both Mulligan and Mr Harper became involved. A struggle then ensued, with both men ending up on the floor.
The prosecutor said it was the Crown’s case that whilst on the floor, Mulligan straddled Mr Harper before leaning down and biting part of his ear off. Mr Harper required hospital treatment while Mulligan left the scene.
Defence barrister Frank O’Donoghue QC told the court both the events leading up to the incident and the ear-biting itself was a “confused picture” as there had been large amounts of alcohol consumed by all parties and there was “friction” between the two groups.
The Judge said that while he accepted Mulligan’s remorse, the injuries sustained to Mr Harper’s ear were “totally unacceptable in society. It was a terrible thing to do”.
He deferred sentencing Mulligan for six months and told him that when he came back to court, he must pay £2,500 in compensation to Mr Harper.