Sidmouth rugby prop bit part of player's ear off, court hears
A rugby player allegedly bit off a piece of an opponent’s ear as they grappled together under a pile of players, a jury has been told.
Prop Mark Unsworth crawled up the body of rival hooker Craig Britton before sinking his teeth into his right ear, part of which has not been seen since.
The incident happened in a heap of players after a scrum collapsed during a South West One home league game between Sidmouth and the Bristol-based Avonmouth Old Boys on October23, 2010.
It was the first match which Unsworth had played for Sidmouth and he left the pitch without going through the usual hand shake with team mates and opponents, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Unsworth, 38, of Back Lane, Newton Poppleford, denies unlawful wounding. He says the injury was caused by an accidental clash of heads.
Prop Unsworth, allegedly carried out the assault on hooker Craig Britton during a match in which he was playing for Sidmouth against Avonmouth Old Boys in October 2010.
Mr Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said Unsworth was playing tight head prop for Sidmouth and Mr Britton was hooker for Avonmouth and there had been no incidents between the two earlier in the match.
The pair fell to the ground together in a pile of players when a scrum collapsed for the third time after being reset twice by the referee.
He said:”Unsworth ended up on top of Mr Britton but they were not head to head. He felt Unsworth crawling up his body until their heads were adjacent again.
“At that moment Unsworth bit his ear. Mr Britton is quite clear there was not a clash of heads or stamping from someone else.
“Unsworth crawled up his body until he reached the right ear and then bit down on it with such force he severed the skin. He severed the cartilage and detached part of the rim and partially detached it.
“That part was never seen again. It was not found on the pitch and has never been seen again. Mr Britton struggled to his feet and his immediate response was obvious anger.
“He shouted ‘he’s bitten my ear’. There was a fracas and the two had to be kept apart. The referee was unsighted and could do nothing about the incident.
Mr Evans said Mr Britton was bandaged up by team physio Lorna Humphries, who took a picture of his injury, and went back onto the pitch.
At the end of the game Unsworth did not take part in the traditional pleasantries and instead got changed and left without shaking hands or showering.
Unsworth later told police he had not bitten his opponent and the injury was caused by a clash of heads, but Mr Evans told the jury that medical evidence showed the ear had been bitten rather than ripped off.
The trial continues.