Two men accused of an attack on ex-Casualty actor Clive Mantle, during which part of his ear was bitten off, have been cleared of all charges.
Philip McGilvray, 33, admitted biting the 56-year-old’s ear during a row over late-night noise in a Newcastle Travelodge last January, but claimed he was acting in self-defence.
His friend Alan French, 32, also from Hamilton, Scotland, like McGilvray was cleared of GBH with intent and the lesser charge of GBH, after a jury deliberated for almost five hours at Newcastle Crown Court.
Mr McGilvray claimed he was acting in self-defence after the 6ft 5in actor charged at him and knocked him to the floor.
After being out drinking with friends since the afternoon, he returned to the Travelodge with Mr French when trouble sparked in the corridor outside Mr Mantle’s room.
Mr McGilvray told the jury: “I turned around and the next thing I was taken out by this big guy. I’m not sure if he punched me or clothes-lined me.
“It was like being hit by a car. I was on my back and Mr Mantle was straight on top of me.”
He could not move because “I had a big monster on me” who he thought was trying to kill him, the court heard.
He believed he had no alternative than to bite the ear of Mr Mantle to stop the attack.
Mr McGilvray had suffered a similar injury when he was younger, when a bouncer bit off his ear and swallowed it and this caused him to feel ashamed for what he had done.
“I know every feeling and emotion that Mr Mantle has been through. I’m disgusted with myself and ashamed with myself,” he said.
Mr McGilvray told the court he had previously been in trouble for fighting and had been convicted of assault. He also said his brother had been stabbed to death in the street.
Mr French said he saw the two wrestling on the floor and tried to intervene. He told the court: “I started shouting, telling him to walk away, please walk away, you don’t need to do this.”
There was sobbing from the two defendants’ families in the public gallery when the foreman announced the not guilty verdicts.
Neither of the acquitted men wished to comment as they left court.
Recorder Michael Slater thanked the jury for their care and deliberation.
Mr Mantle, who has also appeared in the US hit show Game of Thrones, gave evidence in the trial and showed the jury the extent of his injuries.
At the request of the prosecution, he lifted the hair he has grown long over his ears to show the chunk that is missing after Mr McGilvray’s bite.
With his voice breaking with emotion, he described the events of that night, when he was in a touring production of The Ladykillers that had been at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.
He had grown a large moustache for the part, and was in his pyjamas and a T-shirt when a “cacophony” outside his room woke him at around 4.30am.
He told the jury he was brought down like an old water buffalo by “two hyenas”.
After a “guardian angel” named Alice Klenk intervened to help, he remembered seeing the chunk of flesh on the carpet. It was put in a glass of water to preserve it, but that compromised the tissue and it could not be re-attached.
Mr Mantle was understood to be on holiday after the difficult experience of giving evidence last week.
His agent Bryn Newton said Mr Mantle was a sweet and gentle man.