A mother has been jailed for six years after biting off a chunk of a woman’s nose like a ‘shark’ during a children’s pantomime at Butlins in West Sussex.
Tina Love, 28, head-butted mother-of-three Julie McDonald before biting off part of her nose and spitting it out on to the floor.
A court heard that the attack in front of 450 people, including many children, followed a ‘stupid and childish dispute’ over whose table was whose at Butlins in Bognor Regis.
Realising the seriousness of her actions, Love then tried to leave the theatre venue but she was stopped by security guards.
Part of Ms McDonald’s nose had to be reattached during surgery following Love’s ‘appalling’ attack on her in April 2013, prosecutors said.
Chichester Crown Court heard Love lunged at Ms McDonald, who was due to return home the following morning with her three children, aged nine to 16.
Prosecutor Rachel Beckett said Love had launched a sustained attack, described as like a ‘shark attack’, which left Ms McDonald scarred for life and suffering low self-esteem.
In a victim impact statement read by Ms Beckett in court, Ms McDonald, then 47, said the attack left her living a ‘nightmare that I just can’t seem to wake up from’.
Her statement said: ‘Up until the night of the incident we had enjoyed our stay at Butlins. The children had a great time and we were ready to go home the following morning.
‘We attended the theatre that evening looking forward to the pantomime. My two younger children had gone to the front of the stage to watch the show whilst (my daughter) had taken her homework to the show to study for her exams.
‘What happened to me next has devastated me beyond words. The assault on me was unwarranted, unprovoked and has left me scarred for life.
‘I was left in the theatre covered in blood with one of my children next to me as I screamed out in shock and pain.’
Ms McDonald said she was rushed to hospital, and had two black eyes, a scar across the top of her nose and a yellow surgical sponge pinned to her face to hold her nose together.
Sleepless nights, anxiety and fear followed the attack, she added, and she cannot breathe easily from her misshapen nose, which she has to cover in sun-screen in all seasons as it reddens.
Ms McDonald’s statement went on: ‘I suffered the ridicule of being stared at by passers-by whilst the surgical sponge was still in place on the end of my nose.
‘You can’t hide from this. It is there every day staring me in the face when I look in the mirror and I have to deal with this for the rest of my life.’
Love, of Acacia Road, Dartford, Kent, was found guilty of wounding with intent following a trial which ended last month.
She sat in the dock with her head in her hands as the victim impact statement described the toll taken on Ms McDonald, who has a disabled child.
Neil Guest, defending, said Love will lose her local authority home and be separated from her three children, aged eight, five and four.
Describing her as a ‘true, caring mother’, he said in mitigation that she had no previous convictions, had not been in trouble since the attack and was at low risk of re-offending.
Mr Guest said: ‘She’s a true, caring mother who helps strangers and gives to charities. What came over her that night we simply don’t know. Whatever did happen was totally and completely out of character.’
Jailing her, Recorder Mark Milliken-Smith QC said it was a ‘tragic case’ in which everyone had suffered, including Love’s own children.