Man who fled to Oz after biting off ear is jailed

A Cobh man had his left ear bitten off during an assault at Christmas four years ago by a young man who then fled to Australia where he was recently arrested and extradited back to Ireland.

Darren Swart, aged 25, of 2 Hillcrest Drive, Cobh, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to John Blake, aged 48, in the town on December 26, 2010.

Swart was yesterday sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to four years in prison and had the last year of that jail term taken into suspended.

Donal O’Sullivan, defending, said the accused came to the attention of Australian police for failing to pay a train fare. The Irish case then came to light.

“He spent over two months in a high-security prison in Australia, a fairly serious institution, and he said he suffered fairly badly from other inmates.”

Garda Ray Massey said the incident occurred on St Stephen’s night after 11pm. Mr Blake had flagged him down.

“He had his left hand to his left ear. He said, ‘Darren Swart bit my ear off.’ A lot of blood was coming from his left ear. An ambulance was called. I returned to the scene and recovered the missing piece, put it on ice, and gave it to the ambulance crew,” Garda Massey said.

Swart alleged at the time that he acted in self-defence, was unable to fight back, and that the only form of defence was to bite Mr Blake’s ear.

Afterwards, he absconded to Australia where he was arrested by federal police and ultimately extradited.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said aggravating factors in the case included fleeing to Australia and being convicted as far back as March 2008 for another count of assault causing harm to the same injured party.

Mr O’Sullivan said the background was a dispute between Mr Blake and the defendant’s mother.

The injured party said yesterday that on the night, the defendant told him, ‘I am going to sort you out’, and shouted, ‘If it was your mother you’d do the same.’

There was an altercation during which the accused assaulted Mr Blake by biting off his left ear.

Mr Blake said yesterday: “I am after seven or eight operations, it is not a success. I have to go back up (to St James’s Hospital in Dublin) next week. It is gone mad with the amount of money I am after spending. I was out of work for 12 weeks. I am self-employed.

Mr O’Sullivan said while Swart had a somewhat different version of the build-up to the incident, he had pleaded guilty because he knew he could not justify what he did.

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