Suspended sentence after finger bite attack

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

A man who bit off the tip of a man’s finger in a Halifax nightspot has been ordered to pay his victim more than £1,000 in compensation.

Samuel Walker, 22, of Green Lane, Greetland, appeared before Bradford Crown Court charged with wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH).

The court heard that Walker was in Yates’s Wine Bar, Silver Street, on March 29 last year when he entered into a confrontation.

Gerald Hendron, prosecuting, told the court that the victim, Richard Smith, was celebrating a birthday with his wife and a number of friends in the bar.

At around 12.30am, the group was on the dancefloor when Mr Smith’s wife attracted the attention of the defendant and the group he was with.

Mr Smith took exception to this and pushed a member of the other group, causing Walker to intervene.

There was then a scuffle between the two men, which resulted in them falling to the ground and Mr Smith’s hand entering the defendant’s mouth.

The court heard that the last joint and the tip of the bone and finger on Mr Smith’s left ring finger were severed.

The bar’s doormen intervened in the scuffle and as they were about to escort the two men from the building, they realised that Mr Smith’s finger was bleeding.

An ambulance was called and Mr Smith was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary and was later transferred to Leeds General Infirmary, where he underwent an operation and was given antibiotics and painkillers.

The court heard that the defendant was identified through photographs which had been taken by the bar’s official photographer.

Walker was then arrested and interviewed, during which he stated that it was Mr Smith’s wife who had been giving the group unwanted attention.

He accepted that Mr Smith’s hand had gone in his mouth during the tussle, but he could not remember biting it.

Stephen Grattage, defending, said that Walker had given his full apologies and accepted and appreciated that the injuries caused were his fault.

He added that neither the defendant or the complainant knew the mechanics of how the injury came about and “both of them were involved in a scuffle by both their accounts”.

Mr Grattage added: “This is a serious incident, but he (Walker) is a good citizen who could be helped to continue in this way.”

The court also heard that personal trauma had contributed to Walker’s actions on that night.

Summing up, His Honour Judge Burn said: “In your case you had suffered just four years before with serious jaw injuries in the most unusual of circumstances - circumstances which led a suggestion of mitigation on your behalf.

“Your father was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 by an IED. You attended the funeral in Scotland, little realising the sentiment that certain individuals held in that area.

“You were on the receiving end of a brutal attack, resulting in several jaw fractures on the day of your father’s funeral.”

Judge Burn added that Walker’s reaction on March 29 may have been an instinctive one, exacerbating memories of his previous injury.

He handed Walker a 24-month sentence, suspended for two years, 180 hours of unpaid work, up to 30 days of medium level activity and he was ordered to pay £1,200 compensation to Mr Smith.

Judge Burn added that no blame was attached to Mr Smith and he hoped the victim would understand the reason behind the sentence.