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Mum horrified as son's ear is bitten off in park attack

A distraught mother has told how she was left in shock after her son's ear was bitten off in a horrific, drink-fuelled daylight attack.

The savage assault happened yesterday before 10am among a group of youths drinking in the Waterworks area of north Belfast.

His mother, who asked not to be named, told the Belfast Telegraph: "I am just in shock. I hope he can make a recovery, I've been with him all day.

"We are all just in complete shock as it happened very suddenly, but thankfully he's coming around."

It is believed that a fight broke out among the drinkers in the park area of the Antrim Road.

The gruesome altercation, which was initially thought by police to be a hate crime, ended when the 20-year-old man had his ear bitten off. The ear could not be reattached because it could not be immediately located.

The Waterworks area is a hotspot for walkers of all ages.

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Sinn Fein councillor Gerry McCabe called the incident "disgraceful" and added: "It was very distressing for local people using the popular facility."

A source said that horrified onlookers described the victim as being "covered in blood".

Two men aged 23 and 24 and a 26-year-old woman have been arrested following the assault.

Local residents said they were not surprised by the attack, as it is understood that there have been incidents in the past.

"There is always something going on, but it has never been as bad as that," said a local resident.

A young mother said: "I would not let my children in here on their own, even during the day. But I can't say that I'm shocked. I grew up across the road and spent my summers here, but not now."

Mr McCabe said: "Park workers can't be expected to deal with crowds of drinkers abusing families and behaving aggressively. The PSNI need to ensure our community spaces are safe and remove drink from these gangs."

In reaction to the news of the assault, DUP councillor Guy Spence said: "The incident at the Waterworks was a vile, vicious and a disgraceful act which has to be condemned by all and has left the wider community in shock."

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