A woman who bit off a man's tongue which was then eaten by a seagull has dodged jail

The victim was left severely injured and permanently disfigured after the attack

Attack scene and Bethaney Ryan outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court

After biting off part of a man’s tongue in a street brawl, resulting in a seagull eating it, an Edinburgh woman has been spared jail-time.

Bethaney Ryan, 27, launched the savage attack on victim James McKenzie when the pair clashed in Edinburgh in August 2019.

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She and Mr McKenzie confronted each other and she bizarrely leaned in to kiss him before savagely ripping off a large piece of his tongue with her teeth.

Mr McKenzie was left in shock and spat out the fleshy muscle onto the pavement where a hungry seagull swooped down and flew off with it in its beak.

Ryan admitted the attack on the man, causing his severe injury and permanent disfigurement at a previous hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

She returned to the dock for sentencing and Sheriff Nigel Ross told her “the injury was a serious one” but he had to take into account several factors.

The sheriff said due to the there being “provocation” during the incident and very detailed social work and psychological reports into her background he was satisfied custody could be avoided.

Custody ‘remains open’

Ryan, from Lochend, Edinburgh, was placed under the supervision of the social work department for the next two years and ordered to attend for drug treatment sessions when required to do so.

Sheriff Ross added: “In the background is custody and that remains open to me if the order is breached.”

Last month the court was told Ryan and Mr McKenzie clashed as they passed each other at the capital’s Leith Walk at around 8pm on August 1, 2019.

Prosecutor Susan Dickson said the pair did not know each other but “an argument developed” between them despite Ryan initially trying to walk away.

The fiscal depute said Mr McKenzie approached Ryan with “a clenched fist” leading her to retaliate.

‘She kissed him on the lips’

Ms Dickson said: “Miss Ryan, somewhat oddly, responded to that by pushing him on the body and kissing him.

“She kissed him on the lips and during the course of that she bit through his tongue which caused a piece of his tongue to be removed.

“Mr McKenzie walked off and spat a part of his tongue out at which point the piece of muscle was picked up by a large seagull that made off with the piece of tongue.”

The fiscal said the chunk of tongue bitten off during the struggle was approximately two centimetres by three centimetres in size.

Ryan was later arrested and McKenzie attended hospital for treatment where “the laceration to his tongue” was said to be “oozing blood”.

The fiscal added: “He did not require surgery given the piece of tongue was no longer available and could not be reattached.”

Neil Martin, defending, said: “She was out socialising and had been consuming various pills and found herself outside the Dominos restaurant on Leith Walk.

“She noted a group of younger people were making their way up Leith Walk and there were concerns about cars being vandalised and there was a fairly poor attempt at remonstrating with them.

“The complainer gestured towards her and she reacted and lashed out in the manner libelled.”

This story originally appeared on our sister title, the Edinburgh Evening News