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Man bit skin off broken ankle in housemate row

John Hanley

A SALES representative "bit a chunk" of skin off his housemate's already-broken ankle after attacking him for accidentally locking the front door while he was out.

John Hanley (37) bit into the man's ankle, which had minutes earlier suffered a "catastrophic" fracture in a scuffle between the two.

Hanley also headbutted his housemate in the face as he lay injured on his bed, leaving him covered in blood.

The defendant was found guilty at Dublin District Court of assault causing harm to the victim, Michael Ryan, at the house they shared at Seaview Avenue, East Wall, on April 21, 2012.

Judge James Faughnan gave him eight months to pay €2,000 compensation but said he would leave Hanley without a criminal conviction if this is done.

The accused, a father of one, had denied the charge, claiming he never bit Mr Ryan and headbutted him only in self defence.

He was not charged in relation to the ankle break, which happened during a confrontation between the two.

Mr Ryan told the court he put the internal lock on out of habit.

Hanley returned home "quite enraged" and Mr Ryan was taken aback by his "immense anger".

He challenged Hanley, saying he had not locked him out deliberately. The accused pulled him to the ground, where he suffered a broken ankle, he said.

The court heard the DPP had not brought a prosecution over this injury.

It was obvious to Mr Byrne the bone was broken as it was almost protruding through the skin.

He had "taken some kicks and punches" and was terrified, so he hopped upstairs to his bedroom.

He admitted shouting obscenities at the accused. Hanley's brother Anthony was trying to calm the accused down.

The victim called an ambulance and two paramedics came into his room to treat him.

The accused came in, grabbed Mr Ryan by the shirt and headbutted him.

"I was flung back on the bed, completely covered in blood", he said. "He grabbed my ankle, aware that it was broken, and bit down into the broken ankle and removed a chunk of skin."

The paramedics left the room.

Cross-examined by defence barrister Cathal O Braonain, Mr Ryan denied kicking the accused in the head before he was headbutted.

A paramedic said Mr Ryan and the accused had been shouting at each other, he feared for his safety and left.


Anthony Hanley said he had tried to calm his brother down as "everything got out of hand". He alleged Mr Ryan kicked his brother and shouted obscenities about his family.

There was a conflict in the evidence over the exact point the paramedics left the victim's bedroom. A state solicitor said Mr Ryan had been in extraordinary pain and the discrepancy did not undermine his evidence.

Hanley had no previous convictions.

Mr O Braonain said the accused had €500 to offer in compensation.

Judge Faughnan said this was not enough.

He said he would apply the Probation Act if the accused paid €2,000.