A man who was caught on camera nibbling a child’s ear at the World Snooker championships was an Italian holidaymaker who has defended the incident, MailOnline can reveal.

Forklift truck operator Stefano Voci, 43, was seen biting and nuzzling the boy as Stephen Hendry gave an interview in a bizarre episode which caused widespread revulsion and sparked a police investigation.

And he later wrote a heartfelt post defending his actions as a normal means of expressing affection towards a loved one.

MailOnline has established that the child in the footage is a relative of Voci’s – but we are not naming him.

The incident in Sheffield was investigated by South Yorkshire police and earlier this week they announced the matter was “closed” and no further action would be taken.

A man (left) was seen nibbling a young boy's ear in April during BBC's snooker coverage

A man (left) was seen nibbling a young boy's ear in April during BBC's snooker coverage

A man (left) was seen nibbling a young boy’s ear in April during BBC’s snooker coverage 

MailOnline can reveal he man involved was Stefano Voci (left), 43, a forklift truck operator

MailOnline can reveal he man involved was Stefano Voci (left), 43, a forklift truck operator

MailOnline can reveal he man involved was Stefano Voci (left), 43, a forklift truck operator 

Now we can reveal the man in question was Italian national Voci who was visiting relatives in Sheffield from his home at Desio near Milan where he is also vice president of the local blood donor group.

After the footage began circulating in Italy last month Voci took to social media and tried to explain his actions on Facebook.

He wrote:’ There are many clarifications to make but everything is in process (sic). I was just someone sharing love and affection like anyone else, that was exposed maliciously.’

His post went on to identify his relationship to the boy which we are not reproducing, it then continued: ‘All the pictures are being edited in social networks, those pictures are not mine they are just setting this up to affect me….No more hate.’

It then concludes: ‘My family are fine and closer than ever, I don’t care that my face is all over social media with photomontages and fake posts. Just leave my family alone. God bless you all and best wishes to you all.’

He has since deleted all his accounts – as have various members of his family. But MailOnline has unearthed a post from him on his now deleted Facebook page in which he tries to explain his actions.

In the footage the boy seemed unfazed as he noticed he could be seen on the live broadcast and then smiled and waved towards the camera as the man pulled back.

Voci (right) was visiting relatives in Sheffield from Italy and has since deleted all social media

Voci (right) was visiting relatives in Sheffield from Italy and has since deleted all social media

Voci (right) was visiting relatives in Sheffield from Italy and has since deleted all social media

Voci then apparently realised that he was being recorded and broke out in a cheesy grin before wobbling his head back and forth.

A police spokesperson said earlier this week ‘Following review of the video, officers have determined no crime has been committed and the investigation has been filed.’

The video had amassed over 12 million views and 58,000 likes by the following morning with X users expressing their horror.

The footage was captured as seven times champion Hendry was discussing David Gilbert’s last 16 match against Robert Milkins with Hazel Irvine.

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