Man bit during assault after complaining about neighbour’s dog

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When a man complained about his neighbor’s dog his neighbor bit him, a court heard. Trouble flared after Neil Rice’s pooch persistently barked at his home in Malvern Drive, Warmley.

Bristol Crown Court heard Rice’s neighbor Maciej Betleja, a night shift worker, complained about the barking after trying to get to sleep. But when he visited Rice, Rice told him to “F-off” before punching him to the ground and biting his ear.

Rice, 48, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on April 30 last year. He appeared for sentence today. (March 4, 2022)

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The recorder Mr Adam Feest QC handed him 22 months prison, suspended for two years. He accepted Rice’s mental health issues would increase the risk of his reoffending, but told him: “The injuries are serious and for the victim the consequences have been significant.”

Rice was handed 40 days’ rehabilitation. He was also made the subject of a five-year restraining order banning him from contact with both Mr Betleja and Mr Betleja’s brother.

Ian Fenny, prosecuting, said Mr Betleja was disturbed by the barking from next door, consulted a government website, and knocked on his neighbour’s front door. At first there was no answer, the court heard.

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When he heard a noise from next door he knocked again, asked if there was any way he could control the barking, and Rice said “F-off” and shut the door. With that Mr Betlega knocked the door again.

Mr Fenny said: “The defendant opened the door and punched the complainant to his face, striking his cheek. Such was the force the complainant stumbled into the defendant and the fell to the floor.”

On the ground Rice punched his victim some five or six times before biting his ear, Mr Fenny said. Mr Betleja’s brother then arose, saw the assault and kicked Rice, causing him to stop.

Police tracked down Rice to Old Warmley Golf Course and arrested him. He told them he acted in self-defence.

The complainant penned an impact statement in which he said had suffered physically, mentally and financially and was left depressed. He said he had been too embarrassed to leave his home due to his facial injuries.

Guy Wyatt, defending via video link, said the assault was impulsive and spontaneous and urged for a suspended sentence due to his client’s mental health issues. Mr Wyatt said: “There has been no further difficulties between the two households. The defendant understands the seriousness of an order to control future behaviour.”

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