An innocent woman was brutally beaten and bitten on the face after she stepped in to try and stop a fight in a horrific attack in broad daylight in the centre of Belfast.
The sickening incident happened at a bus stop on Royal Avenue while the area was thronged with workers and shoppers.
The scenes were described by eyewitnesses as “absolutely frightening”.
They said the woman was intervening in an assault when she was set upon.
She challenged a man who she had seen hitting another with a bottle when the attacker launched a flurry of blows on her.
She was knocked to the ground and the man subsequently stooped and bit her nose before rising to kick her in the face.
Passers-by stepped in to assist the woman and the attacker then made off in the direction of the city centre.
Police arrived at the scene in minutes and the woman was taken to hospital for treatment.
A suspect was arrested a short time later in the vicinity of the incident. “I saw it all, it was shocking,” an eyewitness, who knows the victim, told the Belfast Telegraph.
“The woman saw this happen and asked the guy why he had done it.
“Suddenly he started punching her. She tried to fight back but he was too big and she got knocked down.
“He tried to bite her nose off and started kicking her in the face. He only stopped when two guys pulled him away and he ran off.
“It was totally uncalled for,” he said. “The first wee lad was in bad shape. He was split open and had blood all over him.”
The woman, aged 36, was extremely distressed at the scene and sobbed “Look what he did to my face”.
Teeth-marks were visible on her nose. A bystander said he couldn’t believe what he had witnessed.
“It is absolutely disgusting someone would do something like that and it happened in broad daylight,” he said.
“I saw a commotion and as I got closer I saw the poor woman.”
Remnants of a broken bottle were scattered at the scene. Former lord mayor of Belfast and UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said his friends witnessed the attack.
“They told me of seeing this man fighting with and kicking this woman and blood pouring out of her,” he said.
“No right-thinking person wants to see something like this happening and talking to a number of people who saw exactly what was taking place it was good members of the public helped and that police were there so quickly.
“You start to wonder what sort of society we are living in.
“There’s far too many incidents, sometimes fuelled by alcohol and drugs, but I’m glad an arrest has been made.”
Belfast Alliance councillor Catherine Curran expressed her disgust at the incident and called on people to be vigilant. “I would urge people to be vigilant and be wary of anyone behaving erratically and for people to prioritise their safety.”
A police spokesperson said: “Around 1.45pm, a 36-year-old woman was standing at a bus stop outside the library in Royal Avenue when she was assaulted in an unprovoked attack by a 29-year-old male.
“The woman was kicked in the face and bitten on the nose. She has been taken to hospital for treatment to her injuries.
“The man made off and was arrested a short distance away. He is currently in custody helping police with their inquiries.”
Anyone who witnessed Tuesday’s attack or who has any information is asked to contact police in York Road on 0845 600 8000.
Would you intervene or decide to walk by?
By Deborah McAleese
What would you do if confronted with a violent or challenging situation?
The case of this innocent woman brutally beaten and bitten as she tried to break up a fight in the centre of Belfast is a frightening reminder of the perils of being a Good Samaritan.
As she witnessed a man hitting another with a bottle her instinctive reaction was to intervene. But the brave woman ended up becoming a victim herself.
It must have been a terrifying experience as her attacker launched blows on her, knocked her to the ground, bit her nose and kicked her in the face.
Many lives have been saved by people who intervened.
But many have themselves ended up seriously injured.
Last year, Limavady man Ciaran O'Brien was jailed for four years for stabbing a Good Samaritan in the face.
His victim, who has been left permanently disfigured, was attacked when he came to the aid of O’Brien’s girlfriend when he saw them arguing.
And Ballynahinch woman, Gina Christie, was stabbed when she stopped to help a man who had claimed that his car had broken down.
Frightening instances like this raise the question, should you intervene or should you walk on by?
There is no point intervening if you are not going to be able to do any good or make the situation worse.
When I think about what I would want other people to do if it was one of my loved ones in trouble, I know that I would want someone to go to their aid.
Everyone has to make their own judgement of the situation, but I would like to think that I would have the courage to help somebody in trouble.
However, Tuesday’s attack in the centre of Belfast shows, a good deed may very well not go unpunished.