A MAN has admitted biting off part of the ear of another drinker during a clash between two groups in a busy nightspot.

John Michael West, 34, previously denied wounding with intent, but yesterday pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful and malicious wounding.

It stemmed from violence which followed an accidental collision, at Chicago Rock, Chester-le-Street, on Friday, December 22 last year.

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Durham Crown Court heard that during the confrontation the victim, David Peacock, was aware of a man emerging from his side and biting his ear.

He said that as he was led towards the exit unaware of the extent of the injury, he was told part of his ear had been removed.

The 43-year-old roofer, from Waldridge Village, near Chester-le-Street, told the court he is still awaiting surgery to rebuild the damaged ear.

West, of Church Vale, High Pittington, near Durham, was led from the premises by a doorman, who saw him in a "fighting pose", with blood around his mouth.

He was later arrested, and several witnesses subsequently identified him as responsible for the bite.

West initially claimed he was merely trying to pull people away from the violence, but was caught by several blows.

At the start of the second day of the case yesterday, his barrister, Tony Davis, said West had "seen sense".

He asked for the charge to be put again, and West admitted the wounding offence.

Mr Davis said: "He bit the other man in the course of the melee."

Adjourning sentence for Probation Service reports, Judge Tim Hewitt warned West: "There's every possibility you will be sentenced to custody."

He was bailed to attend Newcastle Crown Court in the week of November 12, when he will be sentenced with co-accused John William Todd.

Todd, 32, of South End, High Pittington, had admitted assault causing actual bodily harm, stemming from the incident.