TWO brothers who broke into a flat and carried out a devastating hammer attack which left their victim needing a titanium skull have been jailed for a total of 21 years.

Paul and Andrew Marshall broke into a flat on Yarm Road in Stockton at 3am on a Sunday morning in September, Paul Marshall armed with a hammer.

There Paul Marshall rained blows down on his victim's head with a hammer while his brother Andrew punched the victim's friend in the room next door, fracturing his eye socket and leaving him with severely broken ribs.

They left the first victim for dead, in a pool of his own blood, with serious, life-changing, head injuries.

The victim was rushed to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where he was placed in an induced coma for four days. He had multiple skull fractures and had to have his skull rebuilt with titanium.

A victim impact statement from his mother said he had made a remarkable recovery but was still unable to live independently and needed 24-hour care due to brain damage.

Paul Marshall, who had admitted a charge of attempted murder, was jailed for 17 years.

Andrew Marshall admitted two counts of grievous bodily harm and was jailed for four and a half years.

The court heard that the attack had been completely out of character for both brothers. The motive for the attack was not detailed in open court but Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, took it into account when sentencing.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: "(The victim's) family wish to pass on their thanks to the police, ambulance service and the NHS for saving his life and for the treatment and support he has subsequently received.  They welcome the sentences imposed upon Paul and Andrew Marshall."

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Rachael Johnson, said: "Paul Marshall, accompanied by his brother Andrew Marshall, inflicted life-changing injuries on their victim.

"John Smitheringale was admitted to hospital following a traumatic brain injury which required emergency neurosurgery.  John has recovered well physically from his injuries, however, his brain injury has impacted him significantly. He is expected to improve with continual therapy and family support. 

"The sentences handed to Paul and Andrew Marshall reflect the seriousness of their attack and the life changing injuries sustained by John. I hope that this can bring some comfort to the him and his family."