A MAN who admitted biting a woman’s nose, cheek and ear amid a heated row, walked free from court after a judge accepted his claim it was in retaliation for her attack on him.

Lee Maddison admitted assaulting the woman, causing her actual bodily harm, in the incident at her home in Sedgefield, in the early hours of June 18, last year.

Durham Crown Court heard his plea was on the basis it was an over-reaction to being attacked himself, representing, “excessive use of reasonable force”.

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Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said the pair had rowed after returning home from drinking in Stockton on June 17.

The woman recalled at one stage struggling to break free as Maddison sat on her, took hold of her hair and banged her head on the kitchen floor, leaving a bump which remains eight months later.

As she continued to try to free herself, he then bit her nose, cheek and ear, causing what she described as, “excruciating pain”.

Her screams were overheard by concerned neighbours who came round to check on her. When she went to the door, the bare-torsoed Maddison ran upstairs for his possessions and left the house.

Police were alerted and the woman was treated in hospital for her injuries.

When Maddison was arrested the following day, he claimed he retaliated to the woman "clawing" his face and kneeing him in the groin and that he suffering injured ribs and facial bruising, including a black eye.

He told the court the row had been sparked by him berating the woman for racially abusing an Asian taxi driver, a claim she denied.

He added: “I know it was wrong and I’m ashamed about it. I was brought up better than that.”

Judge Christopher Prince said he found Maddison to be, “a wholly credible witness” and imposed an 18-month community order, during which the 30-year-old defendant, of Hawthorn Road, Spennymoor, must perform 60 hours’ unpaid work and take part in ten rehabilitation activity days.