A female Deliveroo rider who bit a customer's thumb off in an argument over pizza has escaped jail.

Jeniffer Rocha caused Stephen Jenkinson a 'permanent, irreversible injury' while delivering him a Pizza Express order in a 'reckless' attack, a court heard.

Mr Jenkinson, 36, and Rocha, 35, had a brief argument over a delivery code before the Brazilian Deliveroo rider bit his thumb off.

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The plumber's right thumb was completely severed just above the knuckle as a result of the freak attack.

Following the 'grave' incident, Mr Jenkinson had to have part of his big toe surgically sewn onto the stump of his missing thumb.

On Friday, an emotional Mr Jenkinson told the court how the assault has affected every aspect of his life and that he was now 'incapacitated'.

Jeniffer Rocha. Picture: Solent NewsJeniffer Rocha. Picture: Solent News (Image: Solent News) Rocha, a married mother of two who was making deliveries on her moped as a replacement rider for her husband, admitted grievous bodily harm in March on the eve of her trial.

On Friday, at Salisbury Crown Court, Wilts, she walked free from court as she was handed a 16 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, by a judge who accused her of 'excessive self defence'.

The court heard Mr Jenkinson ordered pizza from Deliveroo to his home near Aldershot, Hampshire, on December 14, 2022.

However Rocha arrived at the wrong address and when Mr Jenkinson went to collect his food the pair argued over a delivery code which he was required to show.

Mr Jenkinson did not have his phone on him to show the two-digit code in order to prove he was the customer, and under Deliveroo rules Rocha refused to give him the pizza.

The court heard that a scuffle broke out, and although different accounts were given by both sides, it is accepted Mr Jenkinson pushed Rocha three times.

On the third push, Mr Jenkinson's thumb accidentally entered her mouth through the visor on her helmet, and Rocha forcibly bit down, severing it.

The injury to Mr Jenkinson's hand. Picture: Solent NewsThe injury to Mr Jenkinson's hand. Picture: Solent News (Image: Solent News)Mr Jenkinson today told the court of the impact the attack has had on him.

Speaking at court, he said: "This assault has cost me my relationship, my time, my daughter, my career, my home, my money, and has had a huge impact on my mental health."

He sad his partner Jessica had given birth just weeks before the attack and they only moved into the home days before.

"I was physically incapacitated", he said. "I was not able to walk or shower unaided and it fell on Jessica to dress my wounds.

"She also had to look after our new baby which was challenging in itself.

"After six months I was able to walk and by this point all of the stress and responsibility caused Jessica to fall apart, which I totally understand."

Jeniffer Rocha. Picture: Solent NewsJeniffer Rocha. Picture: Solent News (Image: Newsquest)Mr Jenkinson said their separation was a direct consequence of 'the effects of the assault' and told how he doesn't see his daughter as regularly as he'd like as she moved over 50 miles away with her mother.

"I do not get to see my daughter every day because of our relationship breakdown", he said.

"She is growing up so quickly and I feel like I'm missing out on so much."

Mr Jenkinson said he could not afford the mortgage so had to move into his mother's home, with him currently living in the 'same bedroom I had when I was nineteen years old'.

He said he rented out his house - however the tenants have never paid rent and he has had to wait for them to get evicted.

He said his mother is paying his mortgage repayments, which amount to £1,100, as he had to sign up to benefits which only gives him £80 a week.

"I feel extremely guilty that my mother is doing this", he said.

Mr Jenkinson has not worked as a plumber and gas engineer since - and lost his gas licence because he's no longer able to re-connect a boiler.

"I'm not able to pinch", he explained. "The other day I could not pick up my daughter's crayons when they fell on the floor."

Jeniffer Rocha. Picture: Solent NewsJeniffer Rocha. Picture: Solent News (Image: Solent News) Mr Jenkinson said he has spent extensive time in hospital and must have another operation on his thumb, which will again leave him physically struggling.

He added: "Financially, I'm currently in £74,000 worth of debt."

Mr Jenkinson explained that as well as his issues with renting, he has also racked up huge bills through solicitors fees and keeping his possessions in storage.

Lauren Hebditch, defending Rocha, said she is the primary carer to her two teenage children and that at the time her husband was in Italy in search of work.

Ms Hebditch said: "[On the night of the offence] she had done eight jobs that day, she was tired, it was a dark, cold day."

Ms Hebditch said Mr Jenkinson is a '6ft, muscular man' and Rocha didn't know he was her customer.

She said Rocha was 'trying to protect herself' when a scuffle broke out.

"She accepts biting down so hard was excessive", Ms Hebditch said.

"She displays a significant amount of remorse. She lives with it daily, she talks about how difficult it is for him.

"Her husband says she prays constantly and lives in total regret."

It was also heard her children have been bullied as a result and that angry members of the public broke into his car.

Sentencing, Judge Timothy Mousley KC said Rocha's actions were 'excessive self defence'.

He said he carefully examined photos of Mr Jenkinson's injury, which showed it had been torn off from the base of the thumbnail.

Judge Mousley KC said: "What is clear in this case is the thumb going into your mouth was completely accidental and [Mr Jenkinson] had no intention to do that.

"But you, of course, would not have known and you had been pushed and finding a thumb in your mouth, I'm satisfied you didn't know how things would develop.

"This was a grave injury, and it resulted in a permanent, irreversible injury."

Judge Mousley KC said there was 'considerable mitigation in your case' and found Rocha does not pose a risk to the public.

He sentenced her to 16 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered her to carry out 25 rehab days.

He did not order Rocha to pay compensation, however suggested Mr Jenkinson could pursue that through civil courts.