A Scots judo star has been convicted of a “horrific, appalling and animalistic” street attack in which he bit off a man’s ear.
Craig Stewart – whose nickname is ‘Judo Dan’ – had claimed he was acting in self-defence when he tore off a 4.5cm strip of plumber Kieran Clare’s right ear with his teeth and spat it onto the ground.
But after a four and a half day trial at Livingston Sheriff Court, a jury found Stewart guilty of two charges of assaulting Mr Clare and repeatedly biting him to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement.
Sheriff Douglas Kinloch called for a criminal justice social work report and adjourned the case until March 6.
Stewart, from Harthill, West Lothian, had his bail continued but is facing a prison sentence, which will ruin his hopes of competing in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The 23-year-old athlete said in evidence that he didn’t usually drink but 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.
After the verdict, Sheriff Kinloch told the first offender: “The jury has rejected your claim that you acted in self-defence and has found you guilty on two charges of assault.
“This was a horrific, appalling and animalistic attack on Kieran Clare which has left him with an unsightly and damaged ear which he’ll have to live with for the rest of his life.
“The severity of this assault means I can’t pass sentence today because I need a background report before sentence is passed.
“It’s only because you’ve been on bail until today that your liberty is granted.”
In his closing speech, Prosecutor Aidan Higgins described Stewart’s attack outside the Twig nightclub in Bathgate as “absolutely appalling violence”.
He told the jury: “Judo Dan went for Kieran Clare and, in a moment of total wanton violence, bit his ear, tore at it and ripped it off.
“Craig Stewart accepted he must have spat it out.”
Stewart admitted in evidence that he’d been extremely drunk on the night of the attack.
He told cops: “I couldn’t bite my fingers that night. I couldn’t have assaulted myself – I physically couldn’t.”
However, he admitted in court that he was responsible for Mr. Clare’s horrendous injury.
His co-accused Benjamin Dahle,21, of Blackridge, West Lothian, 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.
Sheriff Kinloch told the out of work first offender he had been involved at the start of what turned out to be “a very ugly attack”.
He said: “The charge of breach of the peace is at a completely different level of severity to the charges which Craig Stewart has been convicted of.
“I would have imposed a fine but you’ve no money at the moment, so you’ll carry out 70 hours of unpaid work instead.”