Ear-biting attacker appears in court
A THUG who bit off and swallowed part of a man's ear in a Tranent pub has pleaded guilty to the "most unsavoury" crime.
Alastair Park, 30, attacked Graeme Aitken in Whispers bar on High Street Lothian, on April 29.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how 39-year-old Aitken, a Rangers fan, visited Whispers after spending the day watching an Old Firm match in another pub.
Mr Aitken dared drinkers to fight with him - and Park, a rugby fan, responded to the challenge by biting off part of his ear.
As previously reported by the Courier, Elliot Morgan, Whispers licensee, said that CCTV footage of the assault clearly showed Park putting the torn-off part of Mr Aitken's right ear into his mouth, and swallowing it.
Park, a prisoner of HMP Edinburgh, pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting Mr Aitken to his severe injury on Tuesday before Sheriff Elizabeth Jarvie QC.
Sheriff Jarvie deferred sentence on Park until later this month - but said the crook had committed a "most unsavoury" crime.
The story emerged following a hearing at the sheriff court in which depute procurator fiscal John Kirk told the court that the assault took place in the evening of April 29 2012.
Mr Kirk told the court that Aitken, who was left permanently disfigured following the shocking attack, came into the pub and started goading drinkers.
He added: "There had been an Old Firm match on the television on the day of the incident. In the evening, the complainer arrived in the bar and began to goad and challenge the people there to a fight. He walked round the bar and dance floor area of the bar challenging people to a fight.
"A fight began between the accused and the complainer. The accused punched him on the head and during the confrontation bit part of his ear off.
"The complainer was then ejected from the pub and duly became involved in a confrontation with another man outside.
"At this point in time, the accused was seen on CCTV swallowing the part of the ear that he had bitten off. "
Police then arrived and took Mr Aitken to Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary hospital where he was treated for his injuries. The court heard that the missing section of the ear was never recovered.
Defence solicitor Mark Hutchison told the court that his client was a rugby fan and that Mr Aitken was a "local thug" who had been barred from drinking in Whispers 16 years ago.
Mr Hutchison also told the court that Park's girlfriend was a barmaid in the pub and that his client was concerned she would get into trouble if she confronted Mr Aitken.
The court heard that the fight had started because Mr Park had tried to stop Aitken from misbehaving and from hurling sectarian slurs at fellow drinkers.
Mr Hutchison added that his client hadn't "covered himself in glory" with the incident.
He added: "The complainer is well known as a local thug in the area. He has been barred on a previous occasion from drinking in Whispers.
"The complainer came into the pub an started uttering insults like 'fenian b*****ds' and such like.
"The panel didn't cover himself in glory and assaulted the complainer."
After hearing the circumstances of the case, Sheriff Jarvie told Mr Kirk and Mr Hutchison that she would make a mental note to remember not to visit Whispers.
Before adjourning the case, Sheriff Jarvie added: "This is a most unsavoury crime if I do say so."
This article appeared in East Lothian Courier 07 Aug 12