Man admits to biting off part of victim's ear

ANTHONY Phillip Close bit off a chunk of the ear of a Kyogle man during a hotel brawl after becoming angry a Koori friend was socialising with some white football mates who were playing pool.

Close, 41, of Kyogle, appeared in Lismore District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to the serious assault causing bodily harm of Simon Tough, 24, outside the Commercial Hotel at Kyogle on May 4, 2007.

Judge James Black adjourned sentencing to allow the court time to monitor Close as he waits for a vacancy to enter a rehabilitation centre to receive treatment of his alcohol problem.

The Crown prosecutor said it was clear alcohol was one of the root causes of Close's problems.

Crown evidence stated a brawl began inside the hotel between a group of predominately indigenous men and a non-indigenous group before spilling out on to the street.

Close had been in the hotel for two hours and had consumed seven beers when he took exception to his friend 'hanging out with white fellas', resulting in an argument about 9.30pm.

Hotel licensee Wayne Goodwin intervened and asked Close and his son, Tony, to leave.

However, the verbal argument escalated into a physical confrontation on the street, with Simon Tough receiving a king hit to the back of his head.

After falling to the ground Mr Tough was punched in the mouth by an unknown attacker.

As he lay injured on the footpath Close jumped on him and bit off part of his right ear.

A witness saw Close spit the ear part out on to the ground.

Mr Tough was taken by ambulance to the Kyogle Hospital.

Bail was continued for Close and the matter was adjourned until February 20 next year.

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