A hunt terrier man bit off part of a fencing contractor’s nose when he intervened in an argument he was having with the master of the South Devon Hunt at last year’s Devon County Show. Exeter Crown Court heard the victim, Gavin Aplin had spent the day at the Westpoint show and was in a group of people which included South Devon Hunt master Ian Pearce and his eight-year-old daughter.
Prosecutor Nigel Wraith said Anthony Pearce (no relation) approached the hunt master in an aggressive manner and started having a go at him for being too soft on anti-hunt protesters.
Pearce, 32, and from Bickington near Newton Abbot, was jailed for 15 months after admitting unlawful wounding.
The court heard he started shouting and swearing at the hunt master and the child became scared and hid behind her father. The prosecutor said Mr Aplin intervened and told Pearce to calm down and stop swearing and frightening the little girl.
At that Pearce took off his fleece and Mr Aplin put his drink down. Pearce then threw a punch at him and Mr Aplin grabbed the defendant.
The two men fell to the floor and Mr Aplin grabbed Pearce’s arms to stop him hitting him.
“At that stage the defendant moved his face towards Mr Aplin and bit him on the nose,” said Mr Wraith.
“Mr Aplin stopped struggling and the defendant pulled back still with Mr Aplin’s nose in his mouth. Pearce then headbutted his victim in the face before getting up.”
Pearce spat a mouthful of phlegm and blood at the hunt master which missed and landed on the ground.
Mr Aplin was taken to hospital where it was found that the right nostril had been completely severed, the tip of his nose was completely bitten off and the nerves in the left nostril had to be stitched back on.
Mr Aplin was left with permanent scarring and loss of feeling in the end of his nose. He also sustained a black right eye from the headbutt and bruising below the eye from the punch.
The victim is still self conscious about the scarring, and suffered pain and sleeping problems. He also had to undergo a course of hospital treatment.
When he was interviewed, Pearce said he could only vaguely remember what happened because of the amount he had had to drink.
Mitigating Rupert Taylor said it was a serious and unpleasant attack for which Pearce was full of remorse. He could not believe he had acted in the way he had that day. It was totally out of character for a man of previous good character.
Because of the incident he had lost his shotgun and firearms certificates and had his shotgun which he used for recreation taken away by the police.
Mr Taylor said the precise circumstances leading up to the incident were unclear but the men involved were on the same side of the hunting debate issue. Pearce, a share fisherman of Farlecombe Farm, Bickington, pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding and was jailed for 15 months.
Passing sentence Judge Jeremy Griggs told Pearce: “Alcohol and violence are things which cause a great deal of concern in society. At the county show you had drunk a great deal and fuelled by alcohol you took part in a disgraceful incident. I would be wholly failing in my public duty if I did not impose an immediate custodial sentence.”