Sunderland mum cut love rival's face in terrifying bottle attack

Crown Court
Crown Court

A mum-of-three who cut a love rival's face in a terrifying bottle attack has been spared jail.

Toni Gallagher punched and bit Brogan Kearney after hitting her face with such force the large glass bottle she had used as a weapon broke.

Miss Kearney was left with a wound to her cheek that needed stitched, a bruised face and a bite mark to her thumb after the attack in her garden on July 19.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Miss Kearney has been left feeling "very conscious" of the scar she has on her face, which she uses make up to cover.

The court heard there had been a "vitriolic" exchange of words over social media between the two women in the build up to the violence.

After the attack, Gallagher posted on one of her accounts "Been to Brogan's and properly knackered her. Scared am i?

"I would have killed her if the neighbours never came out. She's lucky to still be alive."

Judge Tim Gittins said it may have been the case the man at the centre of the row may have been "playing one off against the other".

Gallagher, of Friar Road, Ford Estate, Sunderland, admitted unlawful wounding.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with a three month night time curfew, 80 hours unpaid work and programme requirements.

She was banned from having contact with Miss Kearney for the next five years.

Judge Gittins told Gallagher: "What developed between you and Brogan Kearney in the days and weeks that led up to this assault was a vitriolic exchange over that man.

"I am not going to adjudicate over the rights and wrongs of that nor about the way he may have been playing the two of you off, one against the other.

"Ultimately, such words exchanged were unpleasant between the two of you.

"They were child-like almost in their nature and intensity.

"What it should not have done was descend into the violence that spilled out on July 19."

The judge said he accepted Miss Kearney had "goaded" Gallagher during the messaging exchanges in the build up to the attack but said that was not an excuse for the outburst of violence.

The court heard Gallagher has a child with the man at the centre of the row, who had started a relationship with Miss Kearney after their break up.

After the furious message exchange in the early hours of the morning, Gallagher travelled to Miss Kearney's home and launched the attack.

Prosecutor Mark Guiliani told the court: "She was hitting car windows in the street. She had a large bottle.

"She was shouting 'I will fight you'.

"Because the complainant thought her car was about to be damaged, she left her home, shouting 'get off my car'.

"At that point, the defendant ran towards her, hit her in the face once with the bottle. It broke.

"Following the assault with the bottle, she continued to punch the complainant in the face and both women ended up on the ground.

"During the struggle and fight on the ground, the defendant bit the complainant's left thumb, leaving visible teeth marks."

Robin Patton, defending, said Gallagher was vulnerable and depressed after the birth of her third child and had been on a rare night out with friends before she launched the violence.

Mr Patton handed in references to Gallagher's normally positive character and said some of the messages had been deeply personal and offensive.

He added: "People speak incredibly high of her.

"Her biggest punishment is the public humiliation."