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Man forced to eat ear misses court on vodka theft charges

A YOUNG man who was tied up and tortured by thugs who sliced part of his ear off has failed to turn up in court on a shoplifting charge.

Brendan Higginbotham (21) was due before Kildare District Court yesterday charged with stealing three bottles of vodka from a supermarket.

However, he was unable to make it to court as he was recovering from injuries he sustained in a brutal attack on Monday.

It is believed Mr Higginbotham, who is originally from the Curragh, was squatting in a vacant house off James's Lane in Newbridge, Co Kildare, when thugs beat him up, knee-capped him and cut off part of his ear, before forcing him to eat it.

A source told the Irish Independent that local men -- known to the victim -- carried out the attack after Mr Higginbotham failed to get drugs for them and they "just snapped".

He was in hospital for two days and received 15 stitches to the head and 14 to his face in the assault.

Mr Higginbotham admitted to friends that he was "scared" for his life during the ordeal.

He was due before court yesterday, charged with stealing three bottles of vodka worth €59.70 from Dunnes Stores on February 5.

Appearing on his behalf, his defence solicitor explained that Mr Higginbotham was not present because he was just out of hospital following a "vicious assault".

Judge Desmond Zaidan asked if the incident had "something to do with an ear?".

He was told it had and the judge agreed to adjourn the case for six weeks.

Mr Higginbotham explained on social networking website Facebook that he had made "a lot of changes" in his life in recent months.

He said he was "off everything" for 13 weeks -- and was feeling better and trying to "keep busy every day".

However, he revealed he was stressed because of the court case -- and was trying to keep out of "trouble" and stay away from friends who were a "bad influence" on him.

The Higginbotham family, who live in the Curragh Camp -- a residential area for families of Defence Forces staff and ordinary citizens, refused to speak about the attack at their family home yesterday.

The attack follows a spate of violent incidents in Newbridge in recent months involving two gangs. Mr Higginbotham is not involved with these groups' activities.

Residents have complained that two brothers -- who are involved in drugs -- are terrorising the community.

They claim these men may have been behind the attack on Mr Higginbotham.

Irish Independent