Man jailed for hammer attack - Welwyn Garden City

28/08/2014

A Welwyn Garden City man with a drink problem was jailed today, Thursday, 28 August 2014, after he fractured a woman's cheekbone with a hammer.

Darren Yearsley, aged 45, aimed the blow at Toby Maxwell, but he moved out of the way and he struck Vanessa Bell, knocking her out.

The police were called to the flat in Ludwick Way and Yearsley told them: "I wanted them out of my flat. I went to hit him with the hammer, but accidentally hit her."

Prosecutor Simon Ash told St Albans Crown Court that Mr Maxwell, who has since died, and Ms Bell had been drinking at another flat in the block in Ludwick Way. They left and called on Yearsley.

"They drank strong cider. The defendant passed out on the bed, but woke up in an aggressive mood and told them: "Get out of my flat." He picked up a hammer and swung it at Mr Maxwell, who moved out of the way, and it hit Ms Bell on the head. It knocked her unconscious and blood was running down her neck," said Mr Ash.

The police were called and Yearsley was arrested.  Ms Bell, who was bleeding, came round and was taken to hospital where she was treated for bruising and a fracture to her left cheekbone.

Yearsley, of Ludwick Way, Welwyn Garden City, pleaded guilty to wounding Ms Bell on 14 August 2013. He had one previous conviction for causing actual bodily harm 30 years ago in 1984. In 1993 he was convicted of a non-domestic burglary. In 2012 and 2013 he was convicted of shoplifting. Magistrates had placed him on an alcohol treatment programme, but he had not completed the course and was given a curfew.

Dan Hart, defending, said: "Mr Yearsley made admissions to the police at the scene and when questioned at the police station. The people invited themselves into his home. He was a reluctant participant. He has not been involved in violence for 30 years. This was out of character.

"The case against him had been listed for trial, but he pleaded guilty on the day even though Mr Maxwell had passed away and Ms Bull had not been keen to give evidence. Mr Yearsley did not seek to exploit those factors and contest the case."

He said Yearsley, who is on benefits, was taking steps to control his alcohol consumption, which he had reduced from 2 litres of cider a day to 2 cans. "He will continue to try to get help. He is intending to deal with his underlying alcohol issues," he said.

Recorder Nerys Jefford QC said: "This was a serious offence. You hit a woman with a hammer and caused her injury. You have a long history of alcohol abuse." She jailed him for 16 months.

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