Ear-biting judo star jailed for street attack

Craig Stewart was convicted at Livingston Sheriff Court. Picture: Gordon McBrearty

Craig Stewart was convicted at Livingston Sheriff Court. Picture: Gordon McBrearty

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A Scots judo star who bit off a man’s ear in a “savage” street attack has been jailed for three years.

Commonwealth Games hopeful Craig Stewart – whose nickname is ‘Judo Dan’ – tore off a two-inch strip of plumber Kieran Clare’s right ear with his teeth and spat it onto the ground.

Mr Clare and fellow members of the West Lothian football team he plays for were dressed as Jesus and his disciples for a Hallowe’en night out with Bathgate, West Lothian, when Stewart drunkenly attacked him.

After hearing four days of evidence, a jury at Livingston Sheriff Court, convicted Stewart of assaulting Mr Clare and repeatedly biting him to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement. He had denied the charges.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch told Stewart he had been found guilty of a “vicious” attack in which he chewed through Mr Clare’s ear and bit off part of it.

He said: “I’ve taken into account that prison will bring to an end any hope of you – as a Scottish judo champion – of competing in the Commonwealth Games in the summer.

“However, this was a savage attack with long-term consequences and I consider I’d be failing in my public duty if I didn’t impose a substantial prison sentence.”

Sheriff Kinloch said that although Mr. Care had managed to recover his ear from the ground and go to hospital quickly his ear couldn’t be sewn back on.

He had already had one reconstructive operation on his ear under general anaesthetic and is due to get another one.

The sheriff added: “He’ll be left with an unsightly ear he’ll have to live with for the rest of his life.

“I can’t comprehend why someone who has no previous convictions of any sort and who can produce strong character references could lose control in such a way, especially as in the evidence I heard there appeared to be little by way of provocation.”

Earlier the sheriff described the assault as “horrific, appalling and animalistic”.

The jail term means Stewart, from Harthill, West Lothian, will not now compete as a member of the Scottish judo team in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The 23-year-old athlete claimed in his defence that he had gone out on a rare booze binge after an ankle injury put paid to his hopes of representing team GB in the London Olympics.

Earlier the sheriff described the assault as “horrific, appalling and animalistic”.

His co-accused Benjamin Dahle, 21, of Blackridge, West Lothian, was earlier sentenced to 70 hours of unpaid work after he pled guilty to a reduced charge of committing a breach of the peace by shouting at Mr Clare that he was “going to get it tomorrow” for taking on Judo Dan.