Monday, October 24, 2016

Man's defence that he bit off a chunk of fellow mourner's nose at wake to keep his balance fails

What started out as a wake mourning the loss of a loved one ended in a booze-filled brawl that saw one man have the tip of his nose bitten off, and another found guilty this week of aggravated assault. Randall Edwin MacLean was convicted of the assault, which happened two years ago in Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada. Nova Scotia provincial court Judge Del Atwood dismissed the defence's explanation of why MacLean bit the victim as "far fetched and fantastic," according to a court decision released on Wednesday.

The defence had argued during trial that MacLean, 49, was acting in self defence during a drunken fight on Oct. 14, 2014, and latched onto Paul Gaudet's nose in a desperate bid to balance himself and stay upright. "Apart from acrobats … nobody keeps his balance with his teeth," Atwood wrote in his decision. "People will use their arms, hands, legs or otherwise contort themselves when they need to maintain balance. People do not bite into other people to maintain posture." It all started at the home of the Miller family in Pictou. The Millers had just had a death in the family and were having friends over. A lot of drinking ensued, according to the court decision.

Later in the evening MacLean, a friend of the Miller family, stopped by. He too had been drinking. At some point Gaudet, also friend of the Miller family, became angry with something MacLean had said or done. "It might very well have been that Mr. MacLean had not done anything untoward or uncivil at all," Atwood said in his ruling. "It might merely have been Mr. Miller and Mr. Gaudet's alcohol-impaired overreaction to or misinterpretation of events that led to the ensuing melee." Whatever the cause, the two men ended up fighting. The homeowner asked MacLean to leave, at which point Gaudet and a few other men began pushing MacLean towards the door, even as he maintained he had done nothing wrong and demanded an explanation.

According to the court decision, MacLean was almost out the door when he lashed out and bit into Gaudet's nose. It was quite the bite too. An emergency room doctor testified the lacerations were deep enough to expose cartilage and there was "a partial amputation to the tip of the nose." Fortunately, doctors were able to reattach the chunk. During trial, MacLean's lawyer argued his client used Gaudet's nose as leverage to keep himself upright, and prevent himself from falling over and getting pummelled by the other men. He argued that meant MacLean was acting in self defence. Atwood didn't buy the explanation. He said as soon as MacLean was asked to leave by the homeowner he should have gone. "I do not believe Mr. MacLean's explanation why he bit Mr. Gaudet; it is far fetched and fantastic," Atwood said in his decision. MacLean will be back in court for sentencing on Jan. 3.

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