Trio locked up for hammer attack

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A GANG smashed their way into a house and launched a hammer attack on a man after he had got involved with one of their ex-girlfriends.

Martin Rees started seeing the woman, sparking her former partner Colin Cleary to turn up to his home in Boston Street, Easington Colliery.

Mr Rees was getting ready for bed when he heard a crack as Cleary, Shaun Steel and John Burney smashed their way through his front door.

Durham Crown Court heard that Cleary shouted “Where’s she at?” as they came up the stairs.

After they pushed the bedroom door open, Steel punched Mr Rees in the jaw, knocking him to the floor, and he was kicked by Cleary, curling up in to a ball to try and protect himself.

Graeme Gaston, prosecuting, said: “He felt a massive blow to the head, causing bleeding, which was caused by a hammer.”

He added: “He felt further blows to his arms which were protecting his head.

“It was Steel who grabbed Cleary and said ‘he’s had enough’ and the males ran off.”

Mr Rees was able to struggle to the window and saw the trio run out the house.

He was taken to hospital suffering from a black eye, cut above his left eye, a head wound and a number of kick marks to his back.

Burney’s DNA was found on the hammer, which was left in the room.

The victim later picked out the three in an identity parade.

Cleary told police the hammer was taken but not used, Steel made no reply and Burney admitted using his fists, but not the tool.

Mr Gaston said Mr Rees had not made a victim impact statement because he feared a reprisal.

The three, who were drunk when the attack happened, admitted aggravated burglary on the day of their trial.

Mr Gaston detailed how the men, from Peterlee, have extensive criminal records, with Steel in breach of a 12-month suspended sentence for an assault in a pub where he stamped on a man’s head.

Alec Burns, mitigating for Steel, 31, of Manor Way, said he had completed a plastering course while on remand and passed letters of support from his family.

Stuart Graham, mitigating for former deep sea trawler work Burney, 28, of Lakeland Drive, explained he stopped offending, but went back to drink when his brother Steven died in tragic circumstances.

Jamie Adams, for Cleary, 31, of Eden Hill Road, said his supportive family were shocked by the usually placid man’s actions.

Judge Guy Whitburn, jailed each of them for four years for the attack, which left the victim “terrified”, with a further six months added to Steel’s sentence for the breach.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham