United Kingdom

Manchester Arena bombing survivor attacked by pub-goer

A woman who survived the Manchester Arena bombing was left permanently disfigured when a pub-goer savagely attacked her and bit off a part of her ear.  

Amy Bruce, who was among the survivors of the terror attack in 2017,  had been with friends at a pub in Winlaton, Gateshead, when they encountered Sophie Watson - who was intoxicated on alcohol and cannabis.

Miss Bruce and her friend Elizabeth Brown decided to leave the pub following a disturbance and were waiting for a friend to come out from the toilet when Watson, 21, became paranoid they were laughing at her.

Watson marched over to the pair and dragged Miss Brown by her hair, swinging her around and to the ground before punching her, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Others, including Miss Bruce, sought to intervene to stop the attack when Watson latched onto Miss Bruce's ear and bit a small portion off.

Sophie Watson, 21, of Red Barns, Newcastle, was convicted by a jury of wounding with intent, assault by beating and affray

Watson also pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and possessing cannabis

The pub-goer then challenged bystanders and went on to spit on the face of a female police officer after being arrested.  

Now Watson, who was 19 at the time, of Red Barns, Newcastle, has been jailed for three years after she was convicted by a jury of wounding with intent, assault by beating and affray.

She also pleaded guilty to assaulting the police officer and possessing cannabis.

In a victim impact statement, Miss Bruce said the attack and severe delays in the case had caused her a huge amount of stress.

Despite efforts by medics to fix the wound, which needed 11 stitches and glue and left cartilage exposed, Miss Bruce is struggling the cope with the injury.

She said: 'It couldn't be re-attached and my ear will never be complete for the rest of my life.

'I really struggle to come to terms with how I now look and couldn't face looking at my reflection. I've tried to overcome this with help from my family and friends.'

Miss Bruce said she feels a weight has been lifted since the conclusion of the case.

She added: 'This has been one of the most traumatic events of my lifetime, only second to the Manchester Arena bombing, which I was present at. I was just starting to cope with that when this happened.

'I will have to live with the deformity for the rest of my life.'

Judge Tim Gittins said Miss Bruce deserves a public apology for delays in the case, caused by the heavy workload in the justice system, exacerbated by Covid.

Watson challenged bystanders and went on to spit on the face of a female police officer after being arrested, Newcastle Crown Court heard

Miss Brown suffered grazes and lumps and bumps to her head.

Penny Hall, defending, said: 'She had a chaotic lifestyle at the time of the offending but has worked hard to turn her life around.'

Miss Hall said she was on the ground and as people tried to restrain her when she bit the ear.

Miss Hall added that Watson, who had mental health issues, had looked after her two younger siblings since their mother died, has a young child of her own and is now pregnant again.

She said professionals speak highly of the way she has looked after the children.

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