TEMPERS flared at a family gathering to mark the anniversary of a man’s death, a court was told.

The row erupted into violence marring the Boxing Day commemoration, at the Comrades Club, in Shotton Colliery, County Durham.

It culminated in Darren Wilkinson lashing out at several members of the family group, before sinking his teeth into the ear of his brother Anthony Robert Wilkinson.

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Durham Crown Court was told that although the biting lasted a matter of seconds, most of the ear was severed.

Darren Wilkinson, who has a history of violence, was yesterday (Friday June 6) jailed for eight years.

The 41-year-old former pub doorman, of Bruce Glazier Terrace, Shotton Colliery, admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and four counts of common assault.

Ian West, prosecuting, said the gathering was staged to mark the first anniversary of the death of another brother.

Mr West said as the evening went on, Wilkinson did not take kindly to a suggestion that he should take steps to control his teenage son’s drinking.

His brother asked him to calm down, saying something along the lines, of: “Why behave like this on this day of all days?”

This triggered the bite attack in which most of the victim’s ear was removed.

Mr West told the court: “Only the lobe remains.

“The disfigurement will be permanent and the victim says he has lost confidence, is nervous when he is out, and feels the need to always wear a hat.”

Mr West said it could take five or six operations to reconstruct the ear.

John Gillette, mitigating, said the defendant is “disgusted with himself”, and asked to apologise to his family.

“He hopes there may one day be a reconciliation.

“His violent behaviour that day was inexcusable, but it was not pre-meditated in any way.”

Jailing him, Recorder Ray Singh, told Wilkinson: “You’re a bully, your behaviour that day indicates that, as does your record.

“Your brother was simply trying to calm and appease the situation.

“The assault on him was deliberate and you used your teeth as a weapon.

“It was supposed to be a poignant day for your family to remember a loved one.

“Now, they will remember that day for all the wrong reasons.”

An indefinite restraining order was made banning Wilkinson from attending to club premises, or from contacting his brother and four other family members caught up in the violence.