A father who admitted biting off another man's finger at a children's nativity play has been told a jail sentence is "almost inevitable".

Lee Wilkinson, 40, launched his bloody attack on Michael Dent last December at Harton Primary School in South Shields, South Tyneside, following a feud between the men.

The offshore worker, of Fulwell Avenue, South Shields, pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court to unlawful wounding and a separate public order offence in relation to a run-in last Christmas Eve. He will be sentenced on January 25 and was granted bail. Judge Simon Hickey said: "Custody is almost inevitable."

Mr Dent was not in court for the brief hearing.

Wilkinson was originally charged with more serious offences but Neil Pallister, prosecuting, said the pleas to these lesser counts were acceptable.

"There is somewhat a complex background to the case," he said. "It is accepted that Mr Dent has too been cautioned in respect of assaults on the defendant Mr Wilkinson. Obviously matters came to a head at the nativity play a year ago."

Further details of the fight last December 6 were not opened in court.

After the attack last year, Mr Dent told reporters he had an on-going feud with Wilkinson over a woman. Wilkinson had been in a relationship with Mr Dent's ex-wife, and trouble boiled over at the nativity play.

Mr Dent said: "I went to the school to see my child in the nursery's nativity."

It was not thought that any children witnessed the bloodshed as the fight happened while they were preparing for the nativity play elsewhere in the school. Mr Dent said he lost the tip of the little finger on his left hand.