A LIP-biting boyfriend has been found not guilty of intentionally chewing off a chunk of his ex-girlfriend’s mouth – but could still end up in prison.
Chris Chaloner, 24, had already owned up to injuring pretty Nicole Churchett during a late-night attack back in March.
But Chaloner, of St Helens Road, denied intending to cause the injuries – which saw Miss Churchett, 21 at the time of the attack, lose 30 per cent of her lip.
And it took a jury just a few minutes to side with him following a three-day trial which had been disrupted by the heavy snowfall.
Chaloner must now wait to be sentenced on the lesser charge to which he originally pleaded guilty – and the judge warned him he could still face a spell in jail.
As our pictures show, Miss Churchett was left nursing a painful wound following the attack – which happened while the pair dog-sat for Chaloner’s parents.
And the now 22-year-old Miss Churchett recalled in court the full horror of the ordeal, telling jurors she had “screamed from the pit of my stomach” as she struggled to fight off Chaloner – initially mistaking the blood pouring down her face for her boyfriend’s saliva.
The court also heard that Miss Churchett has required drastic plastic surgery to repair the lip and plans to have a further operation later this year to try to ensure she will not be scarred for life.
Chaloner, who Miss Churchett accused of being high on cocaine and ecstasy, said he only lashed out after his partner tried to hit him.
The scaffolder admitted drinking more than ten pints of lager on the day of the attack – but maintained the severity of the bite had shocked him.
He said: “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t do that to my worst enemy, let alone the girl I love.”
During the trial the jury was shown horrific images of the wound and told the missing part of the lip was never found.
And, after returning their verdict, they were told that Chaloner had been so affected by events he had tried to take his own life.
Miss Churchett was unavailable for comment having recently emigrated, while Chaloner’s father publicly apologised to her family on behalf of his son for the injuries caused.
Chaloner will now be sentenced in the new year.