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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

MAN BITES OFF PARTNER’S EAR

JAILED: Stuart Wilkie, who has been sent to prison for three years after biting his girlfriend’s ear off

A BARROW man who completely bit off his partner’s ear after repeatedly subjecting her to violence has been jailed for three years.

A police officer described the case as “one of the most serious offences of domestic violence committed in this area in recent years”.

Efforts to save victim Emma Forster’s ear, by packing it in frozen food, followed by surgery were unsuccessful.

Stuart Wilkie attacked her on the way home from a drinking session, kicking and punching the woman.

He also banged her head on a door and headbutted her before the biting incident after they had become locked out of his house.

The 30-year-old, of Mosley Street, Barrow, pleaded guilty to three charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm and one of actual bodily harm assault.

Mr Tim Storrie, prosecuting, told Preston Crown Court that each of the charges reflected an episode of violence between August 2005 and September last year.

On the first occasion, Ms Forster was hit in the face, causing a swollen nose, bruising to her eyes and a cut. The following month, in October 2005, they had gone out and again argued. Wilkie got hold of her arm and twisted it until it broke the bone in her forearm.

A plate was used to fix the injury.

In August last year, Wilkie did the same thing, twisting her arm until it caused a fracture near the previous one.

She was wearing a cast when the final offence took place on September 8 last year. The two had been drinking the night before and had not got home by 4am the next day.

Wilkie went on to punch and kick her, still wearing his steel toe-capped work boots. The walk home was punctuated by her being subjected to blows, said Mr Storrie.

By the time they reached Mosley Street they realised they didn’t have a key to get in. Ms Forster was blamed and Wilkie punched and kicked her to the floor.

Neighbours heard her screaming appeals for him to stop. She went to the door of a neighbour’s house and banged on it, calling out for the police to be called.

Wilkie banged her head against the door and then headbutted her.

She later said in a statement: “I could not understand why he was biting my ear.”

She recalled him saying “Please don’t get me arrested.”

On putting a hand to her ear, she realised it had entirely disappeared, said Mr Storrie.

She went on to say: “It’s gone. My ear’s gone.”

The ear was found and put into bags of frozen food, in an effort to keep it alive for sewing back on in surgery. There was an attempt the following day, but the tissue was too damaged for re-implementation to take place.

On arrest and at the police station, Wilkie threatened to bite a chunk out of the face of an officer who denied him the chance to have a smoke, said the prosecution.

In police interview he accepted having a drink and anger problem, but denied ever intending to hurt her.

Wilkie had over 100 previous offences on his record, including assault and arson.

Mr Frank Nance, defending, told the court: “The horror of this incident has brought this man up short, as regards his violent offending, more than any previous matter or anything else.” “This last awful attitude as brought a change in his attitude that nothing else could.“

He was said to have made good use of his time in custody and prison officers were among those who had sent in testimonials on his behalf.

Mr Nance told the court that Emma was in court and he suggested the defendant did not present a serious risk of harm to the public in future.

The court heard that the victim is still off work and having treatment.

She has suffered “considerable anxiety” at the implications of losing her ear.

A programme is in its early stages to look at the possibility of reconstructive surgery.

Judge Robert Brown, in passing sentence, said the ear biting had taken the same path of all three previous arguments.

He said: “You are much bigger and more powerful than she is and there is no match at all.”

After all the previous violent incidents she had not complained to police.

The judge told Wilkie had committed “persistent, serious violence against a woman who loved you and each time was willing to forgive you. I take into account that Emma Forster is apparently still standing by you.”

After the verdict, Detective Sergeant Chris Bethell, of the Child and Adult Protection Unit at Barrow, said: “This was one of the most serious offences of domestic violence committed in this area in recent years. We are pleased with the sentence given to Wilkie. The offence was horrific and the victim will have to live with the consequences of Wilkie’s behaviour for the rest of her life.”

“All reports of domestic violence recieved by Cumbria Constabulary are treated seriously and with sensitivity.

“In bringing cases of this nature to court, the police work closely with a number of other agencies, our joint aim being to support the victims and stop them suffering at the hands of violent partners.

“I would like to pay tribute to this particular victim’s resilience and courage. I hope the conclusion of the criminal proceedings will help her to put the events of this case behind her and move forward in her life.

“Domestic violence includes threats, assaults or abuse of a physical, emotional or financial nature. Victims are often too afraid to seek help so they need to be given assistance and protection.” Sgt Bethell is urging people to report suspected incidents of domestic violence in confidence on 0845 3300 247 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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