A man who bit the lower lip off another male in an unprovoked attack outside Belfast City Hall was last night starting a two-year prison sentence.
Adam Young (21) — who has played hockey for his country at both provincial and international level — will also spend 18 months on probation when he is released from custody for the attack branded by a judge as "terrifying" for the victim.
Young, from Loughview Terrace in Greenisland, had been drinking vodka and Red Bull at a nightclub before launching an attack on an unsuspecting Niall Bailey in Belfast in the early hours of May 4, 2006.
The injured party's mother Julie-Anne said while she was glad her son's attacker was jailed for the attack, she felt sorry for the defendant's mother.
Mrs Bailey also revealed her son, who underwent surgery on the horrific wound, has flashbacks and nightmares about Young sitting on his chest and gnawing at his lower lip.
Belfast Crown Court heard Mr Bailey (20) had attended a birthday party in a nightclub and was walking with a friend when Young shouted out to him.
Crown prosecutor Fiona O'Kane said Young then approached Mr Bailey, grabbed him by the neck and pulled him to the ground. Young then sat astride the other man and proceeded to bite him on the eye and forehead.
Mr Bailey tried to grab his attacker and push his mouth away from his head but Young managed to clamp his teeth onto Mr Bailey's lower lip which he gnawed until a piece of flesh was bitten off.
Young then tried to flee the scene in a black taxi but he was subsequently arrested and during police interview, he admitted being at the scene of the incident but denied assaulting Mr Bailey.
He later changed his version of events and pleaded guilty to a charge of causing Mr Bailey grievous bodily harm.
The court was told Mr Bailey has been left with both physical and psychological trauma as a result of the assault.
A defence barrister said Young expressed "a clear sense of regret and shame" and apologised to Mr Bailey on behalf of his client.
Telling the court Young's aggressive behaviour was "fuelled by a combination of vodka and Red Bull", the barrister said his client had little memory of the attack.
He also said the attack was "out of character" for the young man who has represented Ireland as a hockey player.
His Honour Tom Burgess branded the attack on Mr Bailey as "totally unprovoked", saying the ferocity of the "sustained" assault would have been "extremely painful and terrifying" for him.
Acknowledging the victim has been left with long-term damage including post-traumatic stress disorder, the Judge said that since the attack Mr Bailey has given up sport and is unable to trust people.
Regarding Young, Judge Burgess said: "The defendant will have to face the fact that through his actions he has traumatised a totally innocent young man."
Sending Young to prison, the judge said the sentence should act as a warning that such attacks in Belfast city centre "on ordinary innocent citizens going about their ordinary business" will not be tolerated by the courts.