Mum jailed over ear bite attack on woman in organised fight

Julie Ann Doherty.
Julie Ann Doherty.

A mum-of-three bit chunks out of the ears of another woman during a fight which they had arranged via Facebook.

Julie-Ann Doherty was jailed for two years after a court heard Shona Knight needed extensive surgery as a result of the injuries she suffered.

Leeds Crown Court heard Doherty, 33, and Miss Knight, 28, agreed to meet each other to settle a six-month feud in which they had exchanged insults by text and on social media.

The court was told both women are members of the travelling community and prearranged fights to settle disputes was “part of their culture.”

Bashir Ahmed, prosecuting, said the women were watched by friends and relatives as they fought at the Leeds travellers site at Cottingley Springs on January 18 this year.

A day earlier Doherty had sent Miss Knight a Facebook message saying: “Be there big mouth.”

Describing the incident, Mr Ahmed said: “As soon as the complainant arrived at the meeting site she was attacked.

“It is fair to say that the complainant retaliated but significant features of the attack on the complainant are that she was kicked to the floor, she was held by her hair, she was bitten on her arms and then on both ears.

“As the medics later confirmed, the bites were significant and of a deforming nature so that in future the complainant will require surgery.”

The court heard flesh and skin had been bitten off and Miss Knight had been left permanently scarred.

Doherty, of Heights Banks, Armley, was arrested days after the incident. She pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Probation officer Jodie Loftus told the court Doherty had been “extremely frank” when interviewed about the attack.

Mrs Loftus said Doherty had told her: “As a member of the travelling community, disputes of this nature are normally dealt with by the parties involved having a prearranged fight.

“It is part of their culture and should have remained with the community.”

Doherty’s lawyer Ian Cook said the incident stemmed from a dispute between the women’s families

He said Doherty and Miss Knight had not seen each other for nine years until they met by chance while shopping in the White Rose centre in the summer on April 2014.

Mr Cook said Miss Knight had been aggressive towards his client which was then followed by a “catalogue” of texts and Facebook messages in which Doherty was asked for a fight.

He added: “It is common within the travelling community to settle their differences.”

“What followed is disgusting and disgraceful and this defendant does not shy away from that.”

Jailing Doherty, Recorder Taryn Turner said: “You are a married woman with responsibilities. You should know better.

“What sort of example are you setting to people within your culture, as you describe it, and to your children.

“It is quite clear that there is a different side to you but you allowed yourself to be drawn in to this and you should have resisted.

“The proper course is to report it to the police.”