A MAN who rained down hammer blows on a woman’s head and body during a ‘ferocious’ attack has been jailed.

Gareth Nott’s victim thought she was going to die after he launched into the unprovoked attack in the early hours of the morning in December.

His victim woke to find Nott straddling her and punching her to the head and body before picking up a claw hammer and continuing the brutal, sustained attack.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the victim pretended to be dead in a desperate attempt to convince Nott to halt his attack.

But the heavily built accused checked she was breathing before continuing brutally attack the woman and threatening to kill her.

The 39-year-old victim, who suffers from epilepsy, had let Nott stay at her Hartlepool home and gave him money to survive in the weeks leading up to the attack on December 29.

Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, said after Nott launched the brutal attack, he pulled on a pair of rubber gloves and picked up a claw hammer and continued to bludgeon the defenceless woman.

As a result, the victim suffered countless lacerations to her head, neck and body and has suffered mental trauma from her ordeal, he said.

During the three-hour long attack, Nott attempted to strangle his victim by forcing her to kneel in front of him so he could get a better grip of her throat and repeatedly told her he was going to kill her.

Mr Hadfield told the court that Nott had served a 12-month sentence for another unprovoked attack on a female friend in 2017.

In mitigation, Andrew Teate told the court that Nott had suffered his own personal trauma when he was stabbed times himself but added: “There is no reasonable explanation for the attack.”

Judge Howard Crowson jailed Nott for 14 years and six months for the ‘ferocious’ attack on the defenceless victim.

He said: “You put rubber gloves on and began to hit her repeatedly with a claw hammer as she begged you to stop. It was a ferocious attack – she thought she was going to die.

“In an effort to get you to stop she tried to play dead, it almost fooled you, but you decide to check if she was still breathing but she was unable to stifle her breath enough and you began to attack her again.”

Nott was given a restraining order to not go within 50 metres of his victim once he was released from prison.

He was also given a 12-month concurrent sentence for a burglary on an empty home on May Street, Hartlepool, in November.

He was caught about he left a blood-splattered trail around the property which was in the process of being renovated.

Speaking after the hearing, DS Mark Hanson from Hartlepool CID said: “This sentence reflects the fact that the victim was subject to a sustained and violent attack, disturbingly begun when she was sleeping. Clearly this will have a lasting impact on her life. We welcome today’s sentence which will mean a dangerous offender will serve a lengthy jail term.”