updated 3/1/2006 4:36:18 PM ET 2006-03-01T21:36:18

A man who bit off a chunk of his girlfriend’s cheek and spit it out onto the sidewalk was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday.

Gareth Whyte, 27, could have gotten 25 years, but the judge said that he had no previous felonies and that plastic surgery had repaired most of Dorothy Pritchett’s face.

Prosecutors said that as the couple argued outside their home May 8, Whyte bit Pritchett under her left eye, sinking his teeth through nerves and muscle.

During the trial, a prosecutor showed the jury a jar containing the flesh, and Pritchett testified that she still feels a burning sensation and numbness.

Whyte was convicted in January of assault.

“When I was bitten and my flesh was spat at me, more than my face was damaged,” Pritchett said in a statement read by a prosecutor. “The compassion and love I had in me was killed. My courage and self-esteem was taken away.”

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