4 YEARS FOR HAMMER ATTACKER — (The North-West Evening Mail)

SSRI Ed note: Man on antidepressants or in recent withdrawal attacks a neighbour with a hammer, causing serious injury.

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The North-West Evening Mail

Published on 23/01/2007


A VICTIM repeatedly bludgeoned over the head with a claw hammer today hit out at the four-year prison sentence given to his attacker.

Paul Steer, 40, was struck at least three times to the head and face at his Dalton home on July 15 last year.

His attacker, 25-year-old Elliot May, then a lodger living a few doors down from Mr Steer, wrongly thought his neighbour was involved in a relationship with a woman he lived with.

At Preston Crown Court yesterday, May was sent down for four years after he pleaded guilty to wounding with intent on October 27 last year. Judge His Honour Robert Brown called it a “significant sentence”.

But Evening Mail representative Mr Steer disagrees. He fears May, who suffers mental health problems, could be out for revenge within 18 months.

Mr Steer said: “I am surprised and disappointed with the sentence.

“He’ll be out within 18 months, given his time on remand. I felt he was trying to kill me — I could tell by the look in his face. It was a frenzied attack aimed at my skull and jaw.

“I fear for my safety. He said to me at the time: ‘When I get out, I’ll kill you’.”

The court heard Mr Steer received two scalp injuries after being repeatedly struck to the head or face. He needed corrective surgery for a nasal injury which was affecting his breathing.

It was also revealed May had apparently spent time in a secure unit in Southampton, left there and was taking anti-depressants.

Mr Jon Close, prosecuting, said there were concerns about the defendant after he was rushed to Furness General Hospital after attempting suicide on July 8 last year.

A week later, Mr Steer was getting ready for bed when he heard a crashing noise downstairs. On running down to investigate, he saw May coming up the stairs, holding a hammer above his head.

Mr Close told the court: “The defendant burst through the door and struck him to the top of the head with the hammer. Numerous blows were swung and several made contact. Mr Steer tried to stop the defendant but the defendant headbutted him and continued to attempt to strike him.

“Mr Steer managed to spin him round and fled from his house. He was pursued by the defendant.”

May was heard to say: “When I get out I’ll kill you.” Mr Steer called to neighbours: “He’s going to kill me.”

The court heard it was May who flagged down the police. He said: “I have assaulted a bloke called Paul with a hammer. You had better arrest me.”

May was said to have gone on to make “very full and frank admissions” in a police interview. He spoke of having mental health problems, stopping his medication of his own volition, leaving Southampton and moving to Barrow.

He said he had been residing with a woman and claimed to have had a relationship with her. He told police he believed Mr Steer was in a physical relationship with her and had become jealous.

May said of the attack: “If I had been in drink, no doubt I would have probably killed him.”

The defendant has previous convictions including a common assault in 2003.

Mr Charles Brown, defending, said May anticipated no other form of sentence than prison.

The defendant had written a letter to the court before the sentence saying he felt “remorse and shock” over his behaviour.

The judge said: “The courts have made it absolutely clear that this sort of violence, with the use of a weapon, does call for a significant sentence.”

The 189 days served by May on remand will count towards May’s sentence.