| 12.3°C Dublin

Father's school nativity fight was over ex-wife

A FATHER whose finger was bitten off in a brawl at a school nativity play has revealed the fight was over his ex-wife - who was there at the time.

Michael Dent, 32, was attacked as he and his former wife Christy, 31, were waiting to see their four-year-old daughter take to the stage with fellow nursery pupils.

Alleged attacker Lee Wilkinson, 39 - who had a relationship with Christy after the couple split - is said by other parents there to have bitten off Mr Dent’s little finger before "spitting the blood out like an animal". Yesterday it emerged surgeons had failed to reattach the digit.

Speaking at his home in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, Mr Dent, whose finger was bandaged, said: "It's been an ongoing feud between myself and Lee.

"I used to be married to Christy - and after that she was seeing Lee. They are not together any more."

The dad-of-three confirmed: "I've lost the tip of my little finger on my left hand. They have pictures of it at North Durham University Hospital.

"I've had everyone on the phone asking me how I am. My head is just not in the right place at this time. I just want to get things sorted out."

The fight broke out at about 1.50pm on Wednesday, while parents waited in a room at the school for the nativity to start.

A spokesman for the school said the incident was not witnessed by any of the children, who were preparing for the play.

Yesterday, sources said Mr Dent and Mr Wilkinson had been involved in a number of previous arguments but that no one had expected the fight at Harton Primary School in South Shields.

Mr Wilkinson is accused by police of launching himself at the stunned father as other parents looked on. He was arrested on suspicion of assault and bailed.

He was tight-lipped about the brawl, insisting only: "I can't say anything because I am giving my statement to the police and talking to them about it."

A father who witnessed the fight said: "We were all waiting in a room for the show. I'd got there early so I had a good seat.

"I heard a bit of commotion from the back of the room and looked around to see what was going on. A man in a white hat had stormed in. They were fighting and blood was flying.

"It was broken up by teachers quite quickly and the man in the hat disappeared."