Dad’s life ‘ruined’ after being attacked with axe, hammer and bar over drug debt

A dad was attacked with an axe, hammer and breaker bar after three men stormed his home over a £1,000 drug debt.

The “merciless” and “brutal” assault had such a devastating impact that the victim said it “ruined his life”, Teesside Live reports.

Matthew Fender, 26, William Anderson, 31, and Adam Rooks, 27, have now been jailed for a total of 28 years over the terrifying assault.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the trio were at the man’s property in Eston for less than a minute, but that by the end, “there was blood everywhere”.

They arrived at his home in Fender’s car just after 6.20pm on August 9 last year.

Fender – to whom he owed the debt – had texted him demanding the money, saying “keep on blanking me”.

“They got out, each one armed with a weapon – an axe, a breaker bar and a hammer,” said prosecutor Rachel Masters.

They then ran into the garden, where their victim was, and “grappled” with him while threatening to kill him.

He ran inside to escape but was hit with weapons and kicked by the armed men, despite his pleas for them to stop.

The court heard how Anderson also grabbed him by the throat and threatened him, saying to pay the money.

The horrific assault left the man, who is in his 30s, needing surgery after a deep wound to his right palm.

He also had to have a metal plate from a childhood injury to his left arm removed and replaced.

In a statement, he spoke of the long-term physical and mental effects of the attack, which he said he struggled to comprehend and did not deserve.

“He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be the same again,” added Ms Masters.

His injuries led to him losing feeling and grip in his right hand, affecting daily activities like dressing and feeding himself, which meant he relied on help from his mother.

He burned himself repeatedly because he couldn’t feel pain in his nerve-damaged hand, and his fingers were “covered in scars”.

As a result, he worried about his job prospects, struggled financially on universal credit and suffered flashbacks and anxiety.

He also told of the impact on his family, and his child’s “heartbreaking” wish for him to get better.

The three assailants – Fender, Anderson also known as McKenzie and Rooks, all of Guisborough – admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possessing offensive weapons.

The defence alleged the victim was in his garden wearing a balaclava and armed with an axe, but the Crown did not accept this.

The men had 88 previous offences between them, though none for such serious violence and no long jail terms.

Fender and Anderson had convictions for having weapons, and all three were in breach of suspended sentences.

Christopher Baker, defending Fender, said: “This is effectively his first taste of custody. This was dreadful behaviour that he involved himself in.

“He apologises to the victim. It’s clear that things spiralled out of control very quickly.”

He said Fender, who had few previous convictions, had different sides to him as a hard-working family man trying to change his life and his imprisonment would affect innocent people.

Nigel Soppitt, representing Anderson, suggested there was provocation, saying: “This was a fairly short but sustained attack.

“His view is they were simply going along to frighten this man. Of course it turned out completely wrong.

“This is a terrible offence. He realises that in hindsight. It was committed on impulse.”

He said Anderson had a difficult upbringing, got addicted to drugs at 16 and had been a “real tearaway”, but turned his life around since.

He left a life of crime behind in the last three years, got into business, employed others and worked tirelessly, until “this regretful day” when he “threw all of that away”.

Andrew Turton, for Rooks, said he wrote a letter to the court expressing genuine remorse after surrendering to police, and wanted to say sorry in person.

He said Rooks acted out of “misplaced loyalty” and went with friends and colleagues on the spur of the moment into a “show of strength” in someone else’s argument.

He added Rooks’ ADHD might have been part of his “poor thinking”, he had come off drugs and was described by a prison officer as a “good role model”.

Judge Paul Watson QC told the trio, who brought references to court: “The extraordinary thing about this is… there’s clearly a good and decent side to each of you.”

He accepted they went “tooled up” to the home to “give him a bit of a fright”, maybe not intending to inflict injury at first.

The judge added: “It all got completely out of hand.

“The three of you, mob-handed, set about him in what was a shortlived but pretty merciless attack which left him very seriously injured.

“It was a horrible attack by you three and you showed him no mercy. This was a brutal attack on somebody in his own home with a long-lasting effect on him.

He accepted they showed remorse afterwards, and showed some “clemency” because of their families.

All were jailed for nine years, plus extra time from earlier suspended sentences – six months for Anderson, four for the other two.

Each was given an indefinite restraining order.

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