Whitby man jailed for 53 months after charging at his partner with a hammer, punching and biting her

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

A man bit off a chunk of his partner’s ear off during a “savage” attack at their home in Whitby.

Edward Potts, 45, flew into a rage after wrongly accusing the victim of having an affair, York Crown Court heard.

The fiery fisherman initially charged at the victim with a hammer but threw it down and struck her with a fierce punch which knocked her to the ground.

Potts then got on top of the terrified victim, pinned her down and chewed on her ear, said prosecutor Austin Newman.

She had part of her outer ear and lobe bitten off and was bleeding profusely. Potts then spat blood in her face as she cried out in agony, added Mr Newman.

Police were called to the property in Whitby where Potts was shouting and swearing at officers who went to arrest him.

He was charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent but denied he was responsible for the victim’s injuries, claiming an “unknown man” was the culprit. However, he ultimately admitted the attack, as well as a public-order offence, when the case reached court after initially denying GBH and threatening behaviour.

Potts, of The Ropery, Whitby, appeared for sentence via video link on Wednesday after being remanded in custody following the attack.

Mr Newman said that Potts, who works as a lobster fisherman in Whitby, had delusional suspicions that his partner was having an affair when he launched the terrifying attack on October 24 last year.

The couple had been out for a meal with friends at a pub in Whitby where Potts suddenly turned aggressive, starting an argument and prodding his partner in the face, making her cry. He then got up and left the pub “without explanation”.

On the way back home, the victim got a phone call from Potts in which he subjected her to a torrent of verbal abuse. When she arrived home with a friend, she waited at the front of the house while a friend went to the back of the property “to find out what was wrong (with Potts)”, said Mr Newman.

He added: “While (the victim) was stood there, (Potts) suddenly emerged from the front of the house, agitated and angry, running towards her, brandishing a hammer raised above his head, shouting aggressively.

“Before he reached (the victim) he threw the hammer down, but then punched her in the mouth.

The force of the blow was heavy enough to knock her to the floor.

“The defendant got on top of her, pinning her down and sinking his teeth into her right ear. It was a savage bite and (resulted in) the tearing away of a portion of (the victim’s) pinna (outer ear) and ear lobe. She was bleeding heavily and shouting out in extreme pain.”

One of the victim’s friends called police and an ambulance. Potts was arrested and hauled into custody.

The victim now faced having to undergo plastic surgery which could lead to permanent scarring.

Although her injuries were “severe”, it was still uncertain whether he she had suffered long-term damage.

Mr Newman said despite the savagery of the attack, the victim had forgiven Potts and wanted to be reconciled with him.

They had been together for 26 years and there was never any violence in the relationship, but in the weeks leading up the attack, Potts - who suffers from intermittent bouts of paranoia - had not been taking his anti-psychotic medication and was said by his partner to be dogged by mental-health issues at the time.

Potts had a track record for violence and his criminal record including six previous convictions for offences including battery, racially-aggravated threatening behaviour and public disorder. The attack on his partner happened just weeks after magistrates gave him a 12-month community order for assault.

Defence barrister Stephen Grattage said Potts’s “shocking” behaviour was out of character.

He said that Potts, who was suffering from paranoid delusions, “thought his partner was going to leave him” and was “devastated” by what he had done to her.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told Potts: “You lost control of yourself. You created in your own mind a dispute and suspicions about your partner. You tore off a considerable part of her outer ear and her ear lobe.”

Jailing Potts for four years and five months, the judge said a lengthy prison sentence was unavoidable for “violence of this nature”.