A Belfast man with 124 criminal convictions has started a six-month stint behind bars after he admitted biting part of his cousin’s earlobe off.
Belfast Crown Court heard Joseph James Smyth had experienced “traumatic and horrific” incidents in his upbringing which resulted in him turning to drugs.
The court also heard his sister Saiorse Smyth is “currently missing” and that he breached bail on previous occasions when he was out searching for her and following leads.
Ms Smyth, 28, was last seen in April 2017, and her disappearance prompted firstly a cross-border search, then a murder investigation which is focused in Omeath.
Smyth, from Pilot Street, was handed a 30-month sentence for causing his second cousin grievous bodily harm last August, and was told he will serve six months in prison, followed by a two-year period on licence.
Crown prosecutor Philip Henry said that on the evening of August 16 last year, Smyth arrived at his cousin’s Andersonstown Road home. He began banging on the door, claiming he was owed money.
His second cousin – who the court heard was considerably older than the defendant – stepped outside to speak to Smyth. Smyth told the older man his son owed him money before launching an attack on him.
Smyth poked his cousin in the eye, punched him in the head and face then got him in a headlock before biting off part of his left earlobe.
Several occupants in the house, including the older man’s teenage daughter, witnessed the attack and a 999 call was made.
Mr Henry said: “The ambulance crew recovered part of the earlobe from the driveway ... the part of the earlobe that was bitten off was taken to hospital, but could not be reattached.”
The defendant was arrested around an hour after the incident, and when he was interviewed the next day, denied he was at his cousin’s house, and denied the attack. He did, however, make reference to a relative of his cousin’s attacking his father – but denied the assault on his cousin was a revenge
He was due to stand trial on a more serious charge earlier this year, but subsequently pleaded guilty to GBH.
Mr Henry also disclosed that having witnessed the ear injury recently, the injured party has been left with a “significant disfigurement.”