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Woman Opens Up About Having Half Of Her Ear Bitten Off When She Attempted To Break Up A Fight

Gillian (PA Real Life/Collect)

*WARNING: Contains graphic images*

Gillian Furphy has relived the horrifying moment that her ear was bitten off after she tried to act as a peacemaker between feuding sisters during a night out.

Gillian had been celebrating her brother Peter's engagement in October last year when she was attacked by 22-year-old Amy McInulty.

Following the savage attack, after which half of her left ear was lying on the floor of a taxi, she was rushed to hospital where she needed 19 stitches to close the 5cm gash.

Gillian's face after the attack (PA Real Life/Collect)

But her nightmare was far from over, as just weeks later, her wound became infected sparking deadly sepsis which left her so unwell that she missed her brother's wedding.

Appearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court in August, McInulty admitted assault and causing severe injury and permanent disfigurement, and was ordered to perform 210 hours of volunteer work.

“I thought she would get a harsher sentence. Six months on a curfew is nothing when I've been left with half an ear," Gillian said.

Gillian's face after the attack (PA Real Life/Collect)

“The girl that did this is 22, a similar age to my daughters. I just don't know how anybody could act in this way," she continued.

“It scares the life out of me. If someone can do that, what else are they capable of?"

Speaking out a year later, Gillian recalled how she had spent the night of October 26 at her brother's engagement party at a local pub.

It was the first time she had met the sisters, who both worked with her brother's partner.

As the night went on, a handful of partygoers decided to carry on the fun at a nightclub.

“I didn't speak to Amy at the pub at all, but then we left to go to a club, and figured was easier to share a taxi, so I got in with her, her sister and my brother's partner. Another group – including my brother – went in a different taxi," she said.

Gillian's ear stitched up (PA Real Life/Collect)

But during the journey, an argument broke out between the siblings over a comment one had made about the other's then-boyfriend.

“I was trying to stop them, saying, 'Come on we're having a cracking night, we're going out dancing,'" she said.

“I can't remember anything about the attack itself, but next thing I knew, we had pulled over and I was stood outside the cab."

Gillian's ear stitched up (PA Real Life/Collect)

“Amy's sister was standing there screaming, 'Your ear is in the taxi,' so I picked it up off the floor, thanked the driver and said 'Right, are we off dancing?' I don't think it registered with me whatsoever. I did not have a clue what had happened, I was really dazed," she continued.

“By this point Amy had run off. I think everyone else was in shock. I didn't feel any pain – even though she had bitten right through the cartilage – but there was blood coming down my face and I had two black eyes where she had punched me three times, but I didn't realize that until I got to the hospital."

From there, Gillian was raced to Glasgow's Royal Infirmary where her family joined her.

“My family were like, 'Oh my God, look at your face'. I had a bandage wrapped around my head. My brother, who had been in the taxi in front, came to the hospital about 40 minutes later and was hysterical when he saw me," she said.

It was too late to reattach the portion of her ear that had been torn away, so after a night in hospital, she had 19 stitches to close the wound and was sent home.

Gillian's ear now (PA Real Life/Collect)

Meanwhile, police traced McInulty to her home and arrested her and charged her with assault.

Three days later, when Gillian went to a 24-hour walk-in centre to find out why she had a constant ringing noise in her left ear, it transpired she had also burst her ear drum.

Then, nine days after the attack, she returned to hospital to have her stitches removed.

Gillian's ear now (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I wanted to try and get back to normal, and put my ordeal behind me," she said.

But a month later, she began to feel unwell, low on energy and generally under the weather.

“At first, I put it down to all that had happened – it had all been too much," she said.

“But over the next few weeks, I got much worse. I started hallucinating, I was seeing my grandma, who I was really close to, who had died three years prior."

She kept telling me to get my jacket on because it was too cold. I was telling my husband to get my coat otherwise she was going without me.

“My temperature shot up to 42C. Anything more than 38C is considered a fever."

Gillian's ear now (PA Real Life/Collect)

Worried, Gillian's husband Derek took her to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where she was admitted and kept in for nine days.

After running blood tests and an x-ray doctors concluded that she had developed sepsis which, according to the NHS, is a life-threatening condition which occurs when the immune system overreacts to an infection and damages the body's own tissues and organs, causing symptoms like a fever, breathlessness, nausea, slurred speech, chills and disorientation.

“Doctors said that if I'd left it a couple more days, I would have ended up in intensive care," said Gillian, who was told the sepsis was triggered by an infection in her ear.

Gillian's ear now (PA Real Life/Collect)

“The first thing surgeons did was open my ear back up, but by that point the infection had reached my kidneys, so I was put on an antibiotic drip, too. It had been working its way through my body since the accident. They thought it had started with the bite," she said.

About eight days before Christmas, Gillian was allowed home.

Sadly, she had been too unwell to attend her brother's wedding on December 16.

“My daughters were bridesmaids. It was horrible. They kept sending photos and I just wish I could have been there," she recalled.

“For Christmas, my two daughters put the tree up, but I couldn't go out. I love Christmas – it's the best time of the year – but I couldn't enjoy it. I'm going to make up for it this year."

By New Year's Eve, she had rapidly declined, developing a temperature and feeling so fatigued she could not lift her head up.

Raced back to hospital, doctors confirmed she was still suffering with sepsis.

“I was put back on a drip, and this time, kept in for seven days," she said.

“I'm the kind of person who deals with things in their stride, so I thought, 'It's happened and there's nothing I can do, I just have to deal with it.'"

In August, McInulty appeared before Glasgow Sheriff Court, where she admitted to her crimes.

Gillian gave a statement to police but did not attend the hearing as she was not requested to.

“This was a dreadful vicious attack on another person," Sheriff Johanna Johnston QC told McNulty.

“You bit the woman and it's hard to imagine a more degrading attack on a person than to bite them and remove a part of their ear."

Gillian, who is set to have an operation next month to rebuild her cartilage with skin from her thigh, has found having half her ear missing especially problematic during the pandemic.

“I can't hook a mask over my ear so I had to get a special clip made to attach it to my hair," she explained. “I'm just glad I don't have to wear glasses as there would be nothing to place them on."

And although she is feeling physically better, the emotional scars of the horrifying attack continue to run deep.

Gillian's ear after being stitched up (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I think about my daughters going for a night out and it scares me now. I make sure I always pick them up, I won't let them get a taxi," she said.

“I haven't heard anything from Amy, she hasn't apologized at all. Nothing I can do can change what happened so I just have to move on with my life now."