Crime: Ex-soldier receives four year sentence for biting man’s nose

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

A former Irish Army soldier who bit part of a man’s nose off has been jailed for four and a half years.

Barry Fitzgerald, whose address was given on court papers as Doire House, Drumnishear, Carrigans, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent on April 14, last year.

Derry Crown Court heard the injured party, Ali Hallimi, was sitting in a car in Waterloo Street reading a book when Fitzgerald approached him.

Mr Hallimi’s friend had earlier challenged Fitzgerald for urinating against his take-away restaurant.

The 25-year-old was aggressive and angry before biting Mr Hallimi on the nose and back.

The assault continued after Mr Hallimi got of the car and as he lay on the ground.

Mr Hallimi was taken to hospital and part of his nose was found inside the car.

He had to undergo surgery in the early hours of the morning, however the nose was never fully repaired and Mr Hallimi will require further surgery in the future.

The court heard that during the assault, Fitzgerald’s cousin had tried to drag him away from the car.

Police called at an address where both men were present and the 25-year-old told police he had bit Mr Hallimi. He also told officers ‘I would do it again the foreign c***’.

It was revealed in the hours after the assault and before his arrest, Fitzgerald and his cousin had removed their clothes and washed them.

During police interview, the 25-year-old claimed he was acting in self-defence and he was ‘surprised by how easily the nose came off’.

The court was told the attack has had a significant impact on Mr Hallimi and he feels ‘generally scared of being targeted or singled out again’.

Defence counsel Paul Kearney said his client wished to express ‘sincere apologies to the injured party and his family’.

He said Fitzgerald’s life has been ‘dramatically affected’ by his actions and his seven-year-old career with the Irish Army was cut short as a result. Mr Kearney told the court Fitzgerald had an ‘exemplary record’ with the army, was a man of previous good character and had no criminal convictions.

He said the assault on Mr Hallimi ‘was not a pre-meditated act. It was something that was spontaneous and something which should never have happened.’

Jailing Fitzgerald, Judge Brian Sherrard said the assault was grotesque and barbaric.

He accepted it was not pre-meditated, but that biting through a substantial section of the nose ‘required effort and force’.

The judge added ‘few could not be appalled by the terrible injuries’ sustained by Mr Hallimi and everyone who meets him ‘will see the marks of the attack on him. It is not easily disguised or covered.”

Fitzgerald will serve half his sentence in custody with the remaining half spent on licence.