A GRIEVING man had his ear bitten off while breaking up a fight at a wake for his friend.

The 25-year-old man is now undergoing plastic surgery to restructure his left ear lobe following the incident at the Stop and Rest pub, Brandy House Brow, Blackburn on Monday night.

The funeral wake was for 26-year-old married father-of-three Marcus ‘Sparky’ Walton.

Police said his death, on Saturday, March 19, was ‘non-suspicious’ and due to ‘medical problems’.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands Mr Walton’s widow Natalie was not present when the fight broke out, but is believed to be ‘disgusted’ that the incident occurred on the day of her husband’s funeral.

Mr Walton, of Accrington Road, Blackburn, was father to Molly, Maci and Marcus.

He died at hospital peacefully, with his family by his side.

Police said the victim, a local man, had not been able to get time off work to attend the funeral service at St Teresa’s RC Church in the morning or the interment at Pleasington Cemetery.

The wake began at the Manxman pub, Highercroft, before about 30 mourners moved on to the Stop and Rest, where the victim joined the group, who had been drinking all day.

Police said the victim was more sober than the rest of the group.

A fight then broke out around 7pm inside the premises.

Detective Sergeant Simon Upton, of Blackburn CID, said detectives were investigating a serious drink-fuelled assault.

He said: “As a result of a minor argument, this man was an innocent bystander trying to split up a disturbance and was involved in a struggle.

“He went to pick someone up from the floor and in the struggle he’s had his ear bitten off.

“Emotions were running high because of the occasion and we believe this has been a drink-fuelled incident.

“Other customers may have witnessed this serious assault and we would urge them to come forward.”

Police are now following up a number of lines of inquiry, including checking CCTV at the pub.

No weapons were used in the fight, but according to a member of staff at the Stop and Rest pub, a window was smashed during the disturbance.

The man was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital before being transferred to Royal Preston Hospital for plastic surgery.

He was still in hospital last night.

Contact Blackburn CID on 0845 1 253545 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.