A woman bit off the tip of her friend’s ring finger during a drunken fight outside a Melbourne farmhouse.
Mansis Bandi, 50, pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday to recklessly causing serious injury.
Her lawyer said the act was “excessive self-defence” after the other woman, Augusta Aitum, then 40, started the fight on October 15, 2017.
The other woman’s finger required amputation.
Prosecutor Amit Malik said the bite caused the victim “immense pain”.
Bandi told police she didn’t know what happened to the fingertip but she could have “spat it out”.
She told police she didn’t know she had bitten it off and thought she had only left a bite mark.
The court heard that Bandi bit her friend’s hand while her friend was on top of her “punching and pulling at her hair”.
Both women had injuries after the fight, with Bandi treated for scratches, bruising, and a bite mark on her own hand, requiring a three-night hospital stay.
The two women were formerly best friends before their relationship “soured” about three years before the fight, the court heard.
On the night they had both attended a gathering of eight people in Cranbourne celebrating mutual friends visiting for the weekend.
Bandi said she was in her car when the other woman began kicking and punching the car, and dragging her out by her hair.
Her lawyer, Ashley Halphen, said the other woman was angry about the man Bandi was in a relationship with.
The women were both from Papua New Guinea and used to call each other “sister” before the falling out.
In April 2015 they were both brought before the court for assaulting a woman at the Fitzroy Bowling Club because of “a male where there was mutual interest”, for which Bandi was fined but didn’t have a conviction recorded.
Her lawyer said Bandi was sorry.
“She accepts that what she did was not a reasonable response in the circumstances,” he said.
He said Bandi was the only person from her village to go to university and that she volunteered with vulnerable members of the Papua New Guinean community.
He said she had suffered tuberculosis, and breast cancer requiring a double mastectomy, in the past three years.
She paid rent on both a home for her and her children in Pakenham, and a room in Maffra about 160 km away where she worked in a factory packing salad during the week, leaving little money left over.
He quoted her son as saying she “always worked hard to out food on the table for us”, because “to her our happiness was always worth it”.
“This madness that took place on this night was wholly and clearly out of character,” Mr Halphen said.
Judge George Georgiou said he did not intend to jail her.
Other charges laid against Bandi have been dropped.
She will be sentenced at a later date.