Northern Ireland

West Belfast teacher in court over 'bite attack'

A Belfast teacher allegedly bit off part of a doorman's finger during a city bar fight, a court has heard.

Belfast Crown Court heard allegations that Anthony Austin, 45, of Garnock Hill, "snapped" after he was thrown out of McEnaney's in July 2007.

The doorman, Patrick McDonnell, said he had known the accused, a teacher at St Mary's School in west Belfast, for 15 years.

Mr Austin denies grievous bodily harm with intent.

'Excruciating'

Mr McDonnell told the court that on the night of the incident, he had come back into the bar to find a colleague surrounded by four men, one of whom was Mr Austin.

The doorman claimed as he and Mr Austin were outside, both his hands were on the teacher's chest and it was then that he "snapped" his mouth at him several times.

He said that one of the bites took off part of the little finger on his left hand.

Mr McDonnell said he knew "straight away" that he had been injured as the pain was "excruciating".

The jury has already heard from a prosecuting lawyer that clothing taken from Mr Austin was sent for forensic examination and that blood smears and spots on his jeans and shirt matched the DNA of the doorman.

When arrested and interviewed, Mr Austin admitted he had been in the bar that night but denied biting Mr McDonnell's finger.

Under cross examination from a defence barrister, the doorman admitted to giving two newspaper interviews, the contents of which were different to his account given to police.

'Poetic'

In articles which appeared in the Andersonstown News and the Irish News, Mr McDonnell is reported to have said that he had had his back turned to Mr Austin when he was attacked and that he "didn't even feel it" happen.

However, he claimed that sometimes journalists "make it more poetic for the reader" and that his police statement was "100% accurate".

The defence barrister suggested to the doorman that his blood could have come to be on Mr Austin's clothing because after his finger was bitten, he had touched the teacher or his blood could have been projected on to his clothes.

The doorman, however, emphatically denied this declaring: "The blood is on his short because he bit my finger off."

The case continues.