Man accused of biting off chunk of in-law’s ear

Dungannon Courthouse
Dungannon Courthouse

A man alleged to have bitten off “a large chunk” of his brother-in-law’s ear during a streetside brawl in Dungannon has been released on bail.

Appearing before a bail application hearing at East Tyrone Magistrate’s Court on Friday was Peter Michael McDonagh, 31, from The Glen in Coalisland.

He stands accused of wounding a male with intent to do grievous bodily harm on December 27th.

A constable from the PSNI appeared before the court to oppose bail stating that since the incident there had been “sporadic violence in Coalisland and Dungannon” linked to a “feud amongst Travellers”.

The officer outlined how, around 12.30am on the day in question, the defendant had been drinking in Dungannon with his brother-in-law when an argument began. The fight spilled out into the street where an alleged bite was made to the injured party’s ear.

“A large chunk of the ear actually came off,” he told the court before stating that the defendant subsequently attended the station where he was arrested and interviewed, making admissions to the bite.

“Since the incident we have received quite a number of calls about sporadic violence in the Coalisland area,” the constable said, adding that he feared that the defendant “might get caught up” in this and lead to the feud getting out of control.

“Yesterday, we attended the Traveller camp and were told that the whole thing is spiralling out of control - the young ones aren’t listening,” he told the court during questioning by Mr Liam McStay, defending.

“There was an insinuation rather than it being explicit that he was fearing for his own safety (when he attended the police station)”, the officer concluded.

Mr McStay outlined a possible bail address away from Coalisland and said that his client would be making the case that his actions were made in self-defence, stating that Mr McDonagh had suffered bruising and lacerations during the incident.

Granting £400 bail, District Judge John Meehan imposed a number of strict bail terms including a curfew between 11pm and 7am, signing three times a week at a police station, not to enter licenced premises or be under the influence of alcohol, and to have no contact with the injured party or witnesses.

He is not permitted to enter Coalisland or Dungannon.

The case was adjourned until January 25th.