Man avoids prison for biting off victim’s ear in alleged ‘gay panic’ attack
A man has avoided going to prison for biting off another man’s ear in an alleged ‘gay panic’ attack in a nightclub.
Martin Gallagher, who was intoxicated at the time, attacked the victim in the toilet of a club in Newcastle, claiming the man looked at his genitals.
The incident took place in May 2017.
He pleaded guilty to “assault occasioning grievous bodily harm” and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service at Newcastle Crown Court.
Gallagher will also have to pay £5,000 in compensation to the victim, who was left permanently scarred.
Detective Constable Lisa Common, of the Northumbria Police, said: “This was an unprovoked attack on a complete stranger who had gone out that night to socialise with friends.
“Instead, he was confronted by a drunken male who was so out of control he bit the victim’s ear off.
“The victim has been left suffering not just permanent physical injury, but emotional trauma as a result of the incident. I hope he can take some comfort in the sentence that has been given today.”
The victim said the months following the attack had been “testing and strenuous”.
“At times I have been left demobilised by the sheer stress of it all,” he said. “I never could comprehend how one vicious incident could lead to so much pain for so many people until now.
“I’m still coming to terms with my new reflection and hope for a future to bring better days. That is largely thanks to the tireless work of Northumbria Police, especially from DC Lisa Common who has been nothing but an exemplary figure throughout the proceedings.”
Gay panic is a claim of self-defence against an alleged unwanted homosexual advance.
The defence, which allows criminals to get more lenient sentences after violent attacks, is based around the suggestion that a perpetrator was “panicked” into committing a violent crime due to an unwanted advance from a gay person.
The best-known case of the gay panic defence was in the murder of US student Matthew Shepard.
He was killed in October 1998 on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, by two men who met him in a bar, beat him, robbed him, and left him to die tied to a fence.
Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, both 21 at the time, attempted to argue in court that that they suffered “a moment of insanity” when Shepard made sexual advances towards them.