A LONE female householder with vulnerabilities was repeatedly attacked with a hammer in her own home by a woman who forced her way in after smashing a kitchen window.

Ria Dodds went on to strike the 54-year-old woman several times about the head and body with the hammer, some after she had gone to the floor.

Durham Crown Court heard that the victim, who had managed to dial 999 to report her home being forcibly entered, suffered severe bruising, particularly about the eye and lacerations to the scalp, but prosecuting counsel Shaun Dryden, said the injuries were not as bad as they might have been, in the circumstances.

Mr Dryden said during the attack a male co-accused, Martyn Watson, was outside the front door of the house in Consett.

He was locked out by the frightened householder, despite him saying he was with his mother and had merely come to collect some clothes, as both he and Dodds had previously stayed there.

Watson then shouted threats through the letter box, prior to the victim being assaulted inside her home by Dodds.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said a neighbour had seen an apparently intoxicated Dodds, carrying a hammer, climbing over the rear fence at about 8.15pm on July 24.

Dodds told the neighbour she was there seeking £1,000 she claimed to be owed by the householder.

Mr Dryden said the incident came to an end by the chance arrival of a friend of the victim, causing Dodds to flee, climbing back over the rear fence.

The court heard that for a short time the culprits remained at large and carried out a further offence, in which Dodds stole a woman’s handbag in a park in Chester-le-Street, and both she and Watson used moderate violence to prevent the victim and a friend from retrieving it.

Mr Baker said they were arrested days later and made no replies to police questions.

Mr Dryden said the woman attacked in her home was recovering from breast cancer and suffered with emphysema, something which the defendants would have known.

Both 37-year-old Dodds, of Cotswold Terrace, Stanley, and Watson, 33, of Parkhouse Villas, Witton Gilbert, were initially accused of aggravated burglary.

On the day of their scheduled trial, on January 24, the prosecution accepted Dodds’ guilty plea to wounding with intent, and Watson’s admission of affray.

Read more: Man admits aggravated burglary and attempted rape

Dodds also admitted theft of the bag and two common assaults, while Watson admitted one common assault, arising from the park theft incident.

Helen Towers, for Dodds, said she has had a ten-year heroin habit, but was also using crack cocaine at the time of the offences.

She said the offences were out of character, when Dodds was seeking to finance her drug use, and now realises she has made, “a massive mistake”, but is beginning to address her substance misuse.

Katy Sherif, for Watson, said, likewise, he has taken steps to rid himself of his addiction while in custody.

Judge Ray Singh, who called the hammer attack, “a serious escalation” in Dodds’ offending, imposed a 43-month prison sentence on her, and a ten-month sentence on Watson.

Due to the time spent in custody, he may now be eligible for immediate release.

Restraining orders of five years were put in place preventing both from contacting or approaching the attack victim.


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