I Killed my Stepfather — (The Bristol Post)

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The Bristol Post

By geoff bennett

Oct 26, 2010

A MAN fatally stabbed his stepfather 21 times in a frenzied attack at the house they shared.

Bristol Crown Court was told Jason Dacres attacked 65-year-old Bill Hammond after moving back to his mother’s home in Prestbury, Yate.

Police raced to the scene as Dacres was still making a 999 call, in which he told them: “He tried to smash a wine bottle over my head – that’s why I done it.”

A few hours later, the court heard, Dacres told a doctor: “The person I killed just bullied me and bullied me until I snapped.”

Dacres, 34, admits manslaughter but denies murder on December 3 last year.

Adam Vaitilingam QC, prosecuting, said yesterday that Jamaican- born Mr Hammond worked as a welder and engineer all over the world before settling in Bristol and becoming a hackney cab driver.

The court heard he met Dacres’ mother, Evelyn Cowan, in the 1980s and moved in with her in Yate around 1998, after her children had all but left home.

Mr Vaitilingam said how, in the late 1990s, Dacres had a relationship with Hayley Cottingham and they had two children. But when that relationship broke down he was jobless, depressed and single, and his mother agreed to let him stay with her.

The jury was told Dacres and Mr Hammond had not been speaking for some years, possibly after Dacres was abusive over an undelivered telephone message.

It was at 2.46pm on December 3 last year that Dacres phoned police and confessed to killing his stepfather, the court heard.

Paramedics attended immediately, but pronounced Mr Hammond dead at the scene.

Mr Vaitilingam said: “His body was examined by a pathologist. He noted a number of injuries, in particular at least 21 separate knife wounds, made either by stabbing or by slashing with a knife.

“The most severe injury was to the right arm, where the main artery, called the brachial artery, had been severed by a stab.

“Most of the other injuries were to the face and head. A knife had been used to stab down into the skull with such force that the tip had broken off and lodged in the skull. There were slashes to the face that had exposed the teeth and raised flaps of skin. There were defensive injuries to Mr Hammond’s hands and arms, where he had tried in vain to protect himself from the defendant’s attack.”

In interview, Dacres said he had had an uncomfortable relationship with Mr Hammond.

He said Mr Hammond didn’t like the way he was taking advantage of his mother’s good nature and accused him of sponging off her and lounging around her house.

On the day in question, he said, Mr Hammond told him: “Why don’t you do us all a favour and kill yourself?”

Dacres said he found this particularly upsetting because he suffered from depression and had made a number of previous suicide attempts.

He described how he and Mr Hammond got into a “pushing match” at the cooker, Mr Hammond swung a wine bottle at him and Dacres disarmed him and punched him.

Dacres told officers: “I can’t really remember what happened. It was all like a dream. I just remember seeing the blood.”

There is no issue of self-defence in the case. The prosecution says Dacres’ actions amounted to a “monumental over-reaction”.

Dacres’ mother Mrs Cowan recalled a time when Dacres visited her, after his relationship with Ms Cottingham ended.

She told the jury her son was agitated over a valuation of the home they had shared, and stood in her kitchen next to her knife block with the lights off. She said she asked him to leave and he did, and she didn’t see him again for two years.

Mrs Cowan said when she saw her son again in 2009 he kept telling her he was distressed, and hinted to her that she “may not see him again”.

She told the jury she gave her son three options: suicide, prison or a mental health unit.

Ms Cottingham recounted how Dacres’ mood would go “up and down” and he confirmed to her he took medication for depression and had suicidal thoughts.

She told the jury Dacres put a knife to her throat after he had trouble getting into their home, and also grabbed her out of bed by her throat.

Police officers Elizabeth Ball and Ryan Thomas told the jury they saw Dacres covered in blood when they arrived at the scene of the killing and arrested him.

Dr Peter Clark said a calm Dacres told him he was on anti-depressants and heard voices in his head.

The case continues.