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Man accused of biting off friend's ear

Published: 24 Aug 2012 09:150 comments

A 22-year-old man accused of biting off a friend's ear during a Saturday night out has been remanded in custody.

Russel Kennedy.

Russell Kennedy, of Main Street, Lisnaskea, told police he was acting in self-defence.

He denies unlawfully and maliciously causing grievous bodily harm to 24-year-old Jason Kennedy and assaulting Mr. Kennedy's 20-year-old girlfriend, Nicole Rice.

A policewoman told Fermanagh Court she was fully familiar with the background to the case and believed she could connect Kennedy with the charges.

Asked what the connection was between the two men, she replied: "They're friends."

Outlining the background to the case she explained that on Sunday, August 19, police were called to the Urgent Care Department of Omagh Hospital where they spoke to Jason Kennedy.

He told them he and some friends had travelled by bus from Lisnaskea to Omagh on Saturday night and Russell Kennedy had assaulted him both on the bus and when they disembarked, biting off 90 per cent of an ear with three bites and leaving him with two black eyes and a suspected broken bone in his hand.

The court heard that pieces of the ear were recovered from the scene and the victim was transferred to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry for further treatment but was told the pieces could not be re-attached and he would be permanently disfigured.

The officer told the court witnesses reported seeing blood in Russell Kennedy's mouth but no injuries were noted in the vicinity of his mouth. They said he had consumed a lot of alcohol on the bus and been abusive to women when he got off the bus. He was drunk and very aggressive.

The court heard that after the alleged assault, at Scarffe's Entry in Omagh around 11pm on Saturday, Kennedy made off and was not contacted until 17 hours later.

The officer said that when questioned by police, Kennedy denied biting off his friend's ear, saying he could not remember it happening.

She objected to him being released on bail because of the likelihood he would interfere with witnesses and re-offend. She pointed out that the witnesses were part of the same social group from Lisnaskea that included Kennedy's girlfriend.

"At the moment he is of no fixed abode," she added.

In reply to questions from defence solicitor, Mr. Barry Lynam, the police officer said Kennedy's girlfriend had contacted Kennedy and he had voluntarily come in to speak to police at 4pm on Sunday.

She said the bail address provided was his mother's home and was deemed unsuitable as a sibling, who had appeared before the court earlier in the day, lived there. The officer added that she did not believe his parents would be able to control him.

Mr. Lynam pointed out that the sibling was in prison and not at the address.

He suggested that the risk of interference with witnesses, who all live in the Lisnaskea area, was reduced if Kennedy was living in Enniskillen.

Mr. Lynam said Kennedy's last conviction was in 2009, when he received a suspended jail sentence, "and that has had a deterrent effect as he hasn't come to the attention of police" since then.

Deputy District Judge Paul Conway said there was a presumption in favour of bail but not where there was a fear of interference with witnesses or further offences. His fear was that all of Kennedy's convictions to date were for offences of a violent nature, including aggravated assault and criminal damage. Kennedy's comment to police that he was acting in self-defence indicated that he had accepted there was "some altercation, some sort of violent incident".

He added: "It will be up to a jury to decide, at the end of the day, if the biting off of the ear, if that is proved, is reasonable force in the circumstances."

Remanding Kennedy in custody to appear at Omagh Court by video link from Maghaberry Prison on September 11, he said there were no conditions he could impose that would allow him to release him on bail.

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