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Ear bite case judge slams Facebook exchanges
A JUDGE condemned the growing trend for deeply offensive comments on social networks to escalate into violent crimes as he sentenced a teenager for biting off a chunk of another boy’s ear.
Daniel Cannon, 17, was spared jail after pleading guilty to sinking his teeth into the left ear of a friend during an early morning fight in a corridor at St Helens College’s technology campus.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Cannon got embroiled in a fight after “disgraceful, pathetic and violent” exchanges between his brother and the victim.
Sentencing, Judge Nigel Gilmour, who allowed the Star to name Cannon despite him being under 18, said the motor mechanic student had “a rush of blood to the head” while the pair were grappling in a brawl.
He used “his teeth as a weapon” to bite into the victim’s ear tearing away two cm of flesh, which could could not be reattached by surgeons.
But the judge added that some of the blame also lay with his brother, Paul, who had engaged in a sequence of disturbing exchanges with the victim on Facebook prior to the attack.
Making withering comments about the increasingly influential role Facebook is having on crimes that come before the court the judge said: “It is remarkable when people are communicating on Facebook that they say things they would not say face to face.
“We are increasingly getting in court instances beginning on Facebook, it is becoming more and more.”
The consequences of the online dispute result in violence, the court heard.
Ben Morris, defending, added: “People seem to see what is going on on Facebook on the internet as a kind of different form of reality than what is going on in a personal exchange.”
Judge Gilmour said the messages on Facebook before the fight were “absolutely disgraceful and centred on threats of violence”.
He said: “I had an opportunity to look at the Facebook (comments)- and it can be said that the defendant’s brother is responsible for Daniel Cannon being in the dock.
“It would have been appropriate if your brother could be in court today “It was disgraceful, pathetic, juvenile behaviour – messages some of which were deeply offensive and of a violent nature.
“If your mother has not had the opportunity (to read them) then I hope she is given it, so she can understand why it is I say a great deal of responsibility for you being in the dock lies at the feet of your brother.”
The gruesome moments a student bit off a chunk of a boy’s ear in a “cowardly” response to coming off second best in a brawl have been described in court.
The attacker, who the Star can this week name as 17-year-old Daniel Cannon, sunk his teeth into his victim during a scrap on the grounds of St Helens College’s Waterside Technology campus at Pocket Nook.
Liverpool Crown Court heard violence broke out shortly after 8am on Wednesday, March 7 following a fall out over comments posted on Facebook the previous evening, mainly between the 16-year-old
victim and Cannon’s brother, Paul.
Cannon, of Longton Lane, Rainhill, who admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent, says he bit the 17-year-old victim’s left ear to break free from a bear hug he was locked in.
The court heard after being bitten, the boy jerked his head away in pain causing part of his left ear lobe to rip away.
Sentencing, Judge Nigel Gilmour said: “Having got involved in a fight with someone you described as a friend, you were getting the worse of the fight and then bit off part of the ear of the victim.
“You did not intend to cause really serious injury (but) I have no doubt you intended to cause acute pain with a view to bringing the fight to an end.”
The flesh was recovered, however, it could not be reattached.
Reading a statement from the victim, whose identity is protected, Charles Lander, prosecuting, said: “He says people ask him about his ear and it makes him feel upset. It is also upsetting to his family and his mother who worries how it will affect him in the long term and if he’ll have flashbacks.”
However, defending Cannon, Ben Morris, argued that a custodial sentence would “destroy his (Cannon’s) life”, adding that the trainee mechanic was trying to make something of himself.
He added: “He has offered to apologise in person and in writing to the victim. He has offered to take a place in Restorative Justice but the victim doesn’t feel capable of doing that.”
Judge Gilmour told Cannon, who was 16 at the time of the assault, that if he had been an adult he would have been sent to prison. However, given his age and his early guilty plea, the judge sentenced him to an 18-month supervision order and 150 hours unpaid work. He will also have to complete a victim empathy and violent offender programme.
Judge Gilmour, who viewed the victim’s injury in chambers at an earlier hearing, added: “There is nothing in your background to begin to explain why you should do that.
“It was a rush of blood to your head that potentially could have had serious consequences for the rest of your life."