Shoplifter bit off ear of Tesco customer trying to stop him from stealing razor, lamb and champagne before swallowing it and saying ‘I have HIV’

A shoplifter bit off the ear of a Tesco customer who wanted to stop him stealing razors, lamb and champagne before swallowing it, saying “I have HIV,” a court has heard.

When other customers told the victim to look for his missing ear after the attack, he told them, “I can’t. It’s in his stomach,” Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

Liam Dowds, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of stealing razors, lamb and champagne from the Tesco supermarket in Navan Road, Cabra, one count of causing harm to victim David Cunningham and one count of to of causing criminal damage to Finglas Garda Station May 15, 2021.

The court heard Dowds, with an address at Backpackers City Hostel, Dublin 1, after his arrest told Gardaí he would “pee and shit” all over the station.

He then proceeded to smear feces all over his face and the walls of his cell, Garda Shane Byrne told the court.

Garrett McCormack BL, prosecutor, told the court the victim was coming down the escalator at Tesco when he saw a shoplifter being attacked by a security guard and a store manager.

Mr Cunningham came to their aid before Dowds headbutted him several times and bit off his ear.

Dowds then swallowed the ear, the court heard. “There was blood everywhere,” said Gda Byrne. Dowds was restrained and Mr Cunningham sat down to await the arrival of Gardaí. When other customers urged him to look for his missing ear, he told them it was in Dowd’s stomach.

When Gda Byrne arrived at the scene, he found a bottle of methadone in Dowd’s bag with the stolen goods and asked him if he was a drug addict.

Dowds replied: “Yes I am and I have HIV,” before laughing at Mr Cunningham, who was around.

In a victim impact statement presented to the court, Mr Cunningham said he was now conscious of his appearance and paranoid about his personal safety.

He said he’s still waiting to see a plastic surgeon and wasn’t sure of the long-term effects and extent of the damage to his ear.

Pieter Le Vert BL, who is defending himself, told the court Dowds had a checkered history of mental health problems and drug addiction.

He has 14 previous convictions, including theft, in the Republic of Ireland and a further conviction in Northern Ireland, where he is originally from.

“He is devastated by what he has done. He’s ashamed and embarrassed,” Mr Le Vert said.

Dowds wanted to apologize to his victim and to the Gardaí, the court heard. “It’s not worth much and he knows it, but he wanted to say it,” Mr Le Vert said. Dowds has been in custody since the attack and is “thriving” in prison, the court heard.

Judge Melanie Greally noted there were “elements of psychosis” in the case, but said, “It was also vengeful what he said about HIV to a man whose ear he had just bitten off.” Shoplifter bit off ear of Tesco customer trying to stop him from stealing razor, lamb and champagne before swallowing it and saying ‘I have HIV’

Fry Electronics Team

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