A MAN who threw a bottle which left a young car passenger with serious facial injuries was today (July 1) warned he is facing a likely prison sentence.

Matthew McCrea previously admitted drunkenly flinging the bottle which shattered the window of a passing Fiat Punto, showering schoolgirl Abbie Keers with broken glass.

The nine-year-old, from Stanley, County Durham, suffered cuts to her nose and above her eye, which required plastic surgery, as a result of the incident on the A693 town centre bypass, on Friday February 14.

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The bottle was thrown from the direction of the entrance/exit to a nearby underpass.

Abbie was a passenger in the car being driven by her grandmother Sandra Webb to Shotley Bridge Hospital when the bottle hit the car, at about 10.30pm.

McCrea, 24, of Tyne Vale, Stanley, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm, at a hearing at Durham Crown Court, on May 20.

But the case was adjourned for the prosecution to consider if it was prepared to accept his plea on the basis that it was a “reckless” act rather than a deliberate targeting of the passing car.

John Gillette, for the Crown, told today’s hearing that expert evidence could not prove unequivocally that the bottle was aimed at the car.

“The Crown spoke to a forensic scientist to ascertain if he could say how much force would be needed.

“He couldn’t. There were too many variables, so that leaves us in a position where the Crown does not necessarily embrace the basis of plea.

“But, we are certainly not in a position to lead evidence to disprove it.”

Liam O’Brien, for McCrea, told the court: “At the time of the offence the defendant had consumed a fairly substantial quantity of alcohol.”

He said, due to McCrea’s “self-induced intoxication” it probably could not be said that he was targeting the car deliberately.

Judge Christopher Prince said the amount of alcohol he had in his system does not reduce McCrea’s “culpability”.

He adjourned the case for a month before McCrea is sentenced, to allow a full report to be prepared by the plastic surgeon who treated Abbie.

A victim statement will also be read to the court by Mrs Webb, along with photos of both the scene and portraying Abbie's injuries.

Judge Prince told McCrea: “You may receive a custodial sentence with immediate effect when you return to this court, so put your affairs in order.”

He bailed McCrea to return for sentence on Friday, August 1.