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Actor relives ear bite attack agony

Former Casualty actor Clive Mantle fought back tears as he described to a court how he was left permanently disfigured when he asked two noisy drunks in his hotel to be quiet.

Mr Mantle, 56, who was working locally, lost a substantial part of his ear after he was woken up by Philip McGilvray, 33, and Alan French, 32, shouting in the corridor outside his ground-floor room, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

The actor twice asked the pair to keep quiet and was on his way to the Quayside Travelodge reception to complain when they laid into him, the jury heard.

He recalled in court how he fought back after feeling a surge of adrenaline when his ear was bitten off, but, remembering at that moment the case of farmer Tony Martin, he tried to make his response proportionate.

Mr Mantle lifted his long, grey hair to show the jury his disfigured left ear at the request of the prosecution.

He had been staying in the Travelodge for six nights while working on a touring production at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle and had asked for a quiet room.

He was asleep, alone when he heard loud revelry and laughter outside his room but eventually it faded.

But three or four minutes later there was "the most almighty noise" which sounded like it was right by his door, he said.

Mr Mantle, 6ft 5in tall and sporting a large moustache he had grown for his acting part, went to the door in his pyjamas and a T-shirt, and the noise immediately ceased.

He saw French in front of him - "a much smaller man than me".

Mr Mantle said: "He looked up at me and it was a look of astonishment in his eyes.

"I must have cast a fairly strange figure.

"I had a huge moustache, Jimmy Edwards-like, for the part I was playing.

"I said 'Will you shut up, please, I'm trying to sleep'

"And I indicated the rest of the corridor were all trying to sleep.

"He made no further noise and I thought 'I have done the trick'."

Mr Mantle went back to bed but three or four minutes later the noise started again.

He said: "Male One was encouraging Male Two to 'come and look at the old man in pyjamas'."

Asked how he reacted, Mr Mantle replied: "I have been called an awful lot of things in my life.

"I can quite see I looked like a figure of fun. For two hours a day it makes perfect sense to have a great moustache on your face. For 21 weeks I had attracted strange looks wherever I had gone in the country.

"I was not particularly offended, I just wanted them to be quiet and go away."

Hearing more noise, he went to his door and warned them he was going to call security. But after searching his room, he could not find any hotel phone so had to walk to reception.

Mr Mantle had not considered either man posed a threat and said they looked like "music hall drunks".

As he walked down the corridor barefoot in his pyjamas and t-shirt to get past them and to security, he realised "the game had changed".

The two men stood up to block his path and he did not want to turn back to his room because he feared he might not be able to use his key card quickly.

So Mr Mantle put his hands out to force a gap through them, he said.

"Immediately, my arms were caught," he said.

"I had one man on each arm and I couldn't free myself.

"It was then that a tussle, a jostle, and me trying to free myself, turned into a melee.

"I think in total there were about 15 blows, of which only four hurt."

The worst was one to his right temple, he said.

"By this time I'm struggling to escape.

"I was trying to fight them off as best I could but I had a man on each arm. I was completely hampered."

Eventually he was brought to the ground with a bang, and his face was pressed against the carpet.

French was pinning him down, he said, and McGilvray was to his side.

"The next thing I was aware of was a pain in my left ear which triggered a massive response within me," he said.

"I said 'you are biting my f**king ear'.

"The adrenaline it gave me enabled me to rip my right hand away.

"The only thing I could do is put my thumb in his eye socket to make him release.

"An image of Tony Martin, the guy who shot the intruders in his house, went through my mind.

"I have got to do enough damage to hurt him but not so much so I get prosecuted for poking someone's eye out.

"It's the bizarre things you think about at times like this."

Mr Mantle told the jury that at that point, his "guardian angel" Alice Klenk, a nurse staying at the hotel with her partner, heard the fighting and came out of her room.

She grabbed both defendants by the scruff of the neck to stop them having another go at Mr Mantle, the jury heard.

The actor, who has also appeared in Game of Thrones, said: "She literally saved me from a lot further damage."

After staggering to his feet, he saw there was blood all over him.

"I looked down on the floor and there was my ear lying on the carpet," he said.

"That brings things into focus."

He picked it up with one hand and grabbed one of the men with the other, he said.

The four of them began a "peculiar dance" as Mr Mantle and the nurse kept hold of the defendants to stop them fleeing.

Then Miss Klenk said he should let go and that he needed medical help.

With his voice breaking with emotion, he recalled: "She was calming me down and trying to get me back to my room.

"I had my ear in my left hand, I got back to my room and she put it in a glass of water to preserve it, so they would be able to re-attach it.

"We found a plastic cup in the bathroom and she put water in it and she put my ear in water.

"Male One and Male Two had gone by now."

Stood in the witness box in a dark grey pin-striped suit, he recalled then going to the Royal Victoria Infirmary where his ear could not be repaired.

"Unfortunately once it is immersed in water it is compromised and cannot be reattached," he said.

McGilvray and French, both 32, and from Hamilton, Scotland, both deny wounding with intent.

There was no dispute about what McGilvray did, the court heard. French was charged with the same offence because he was jointly responsible, Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, told the court.

McGilvray will argue self-defence, the jury heard.

The defendants were visiting Newcastle with friends and had been out drinking.

"You may think the drink converted them to being raucous and, ultimately violent," Mr Perks said.

McGilvray stated he had been assaulted - not Mr Mantle, the court heard.

"The defendants' actions thereafter are telling", Mr Perks said.

"Rather than wait for the police to explain how they were the victims in this case, both of them left the scene."

They tried to get a room in a Premier Inn without success and returned to the Travelodge three hours later when they were arrested.

Later, McGilvray told detectives he bit the actor because he had been attacked.

"At the time Mr Mantle was on top of him and he couldn't get him off", Mr Perks said McGilvray had told police.

"He stated he was afraid at the time and felt ashamed of his actions."

French said he played no part in the attack.

Mr Perks said: "He stated Mr Mantle had gone for his friend and his only role was to try to pull them apart."

The case continues.


From Belfast Telegraph