herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Man bit part of a stranger's ear off in unprovoked pub attack

Darren Byrne
Darren Byrne

A DUBLIN man has been jailed for three years for biting off a piece of a stranger's ear in an unprovoked pub attack two years ago.

Lawyers for Darren Byrne (34) said he had been on heavy medication and believed six men were attacking him when he bit a chunk off Niall Kearns' ear.

The victim later told gardai he recalled Byrne "growling" in his ear but didn't realise a piece was missing until his friends alerted him and found it in the area.

Byrne, of Harelawn Avenue, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Kearns causing him harm at The Village Inn, Clondalkin on June 23, 2012.

He has 15 previous convictions for minor matters.

Judge Martin Nolan described it as "a savage attack" and said that Byrne had "behaved in a deplorable fashion for whatever reason".

He accepted that the victim had "no part to play" in the attack and added Byrne "must pay a heavy price for what he did".

Judge Nolan said the assault was at "the highest level of this offence" and that Byrne succeeded in biting a large part of the victim's ear off.

Garda Warren Farrell said that surgeons tried unsuccessfully to re-attach Mr Kearns' ear and he turned down reconstructive options because he felt it would look too fake.

GROWLING

Gda Farrell told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that Mr Kearns recalled speaking to Byrne in the pub after he had seen his attacker talking to his brother.

Mr Kearns told gardaí he and Mr Byrne punched each other after the brief conversation.

The victim remembered thinking the altercation was over, when Byrne grabbed him and began "growling" into his right ear.

Byrne was pulled off Mr Kearns by bouncers and it took up to seven gardaí to arrest him when they arrived on the scene.

Gda Farrell agreed with Garnet Orange SC, defending, that his client had suffered from mouth cancer twice and had been on heavy medication for depression on the night of the attack.

Mr Orange submitted to Judge Nolan that his client is a former heroin addict who has serious health issues.

He said Byrne was "convinced he had been beset by six men" on the night in question and has no previous violent convictions.

Counsel asked the judge to consider imposing a non-custodial sentence.

hnews@herald.ie

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