Man who bit off piece of victim’s ear has sentence increased

Leon Smith, 21, has been given a jail sentence
Leon Smith, 21, has been given a jail sentence

A man who bit off a piece of his victim’s ear has had his sentence increased after the Solicitor General appealed it for being too low.

Leon Smith, 21, of Store Pound, Over Court, Hassocks, was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He was originally sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in January, but Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC, thought this was ‘nowhere near tough enough’.

A hearing was held today at the Court of Appeal and Smith’s sentence was increased to four years and eight months in prison, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Buckland, said: “This was a vicious attack on a defenceless victim which will have lasting consequences. I am pleased that the court has today increased Smith’s sentence and I hope it brings some comfort to his victim.”

Smith attacked his victim, who was known to him, while he sat in his parked car in Burgess Hill in July 2016, the court heard.

He left his former pal with the top half of his right ear missing after a ‘red mist’ descended on him.

He claimed after the attack that he remembered nothing of what happened because of the ‘red mist’, the court heard.

Smith was spared jail, despite the judge describing his crime as ‘truly dreadful’.

He was handed a two-year suspended sentence, plus a 200-hour unpaid work order, after pleading guilty to wounding with intent.

Lord Justice Gross said the suspended sentence he was given at Lewes Crown Court was ‘unduly lenient’.

He said: “There was higher culpability because of the use of the offender’s teeth.

“The sentencing judge here allowed the mitigating factors to outweigh the aggravating factors and gave them too much weight.

“The judge’s sentence failed to give effect to her own characterisation of the offence as ‘truly dreadful’.

“The sentence was wholly inadequate and far too short. It was not only lenient, but unduly lenient, and there was no proper basis for the suspension.

“The appropriate sentence is immediate custody for four years eight months.”

The judge also ruled that the suspended jail term was ‘wholly inadequate to reflect the seriousness of the crime’.