Jurors asked to set aside 'revulsion' over hammer attack in considering verdict

Jurors in the case of a man accused of attempting to murder a 96-year-old in a claw hammer attack at his home have been told to set aside their "natural revulsion" as they retire to consider their verdict.

James Booth, known as Jim and a D-Day veteran, was left with multiple skull fractures and lacerations to his head, hands and arms after answering the door to a cold-caller at his home in Gipsy Lane, Taunton, on November 22, last year.

Joseph Isaacs, 40, who claimed to be a builder when Mr Booth answered the door, went on trial at Taunton Crown Court on Monday accused of attempting to murder the Royal Navy veteran.

In her closing speech on Thursday, Rachel Drake, prosecuting, said there was only one issue for the jury to resolve.

"That is what did this defendant intend when he was attacking Mr Booth with that claw hammer?" she said.

Jim Booth attack
Jim Booth attack

Jurors have heard that Isaacs pleaded guilty to causing GBH with intent, aggravated burglary and six counts of fraud in relation to the attack at an earlier hearing but denies intending to kill Mr Booth.

In his evidence he claimed he had been having a nervous breakdown at the time, was living in his car and was starving, having not eaten for four days.

Ms Drake asked them to consider whether Isaacs "purported intention" in attacking Mr Booth - to get money - fit with the nature of the attack which included repeated blows to the older man's head with the hammer.

"Quite obviously he went far beyond what was necessary to enable him to steal from Mr Booth," she said, adding that Isaacs' evidence had been "a desperate attempt to minimise what he had done".

Isaacs was arrested on November 24 after using the bank card he had stolen from Mr Booth's home at a number of shops and food outlets.

When he was taken into custody he requested a health assessment but subsequently told the health care professional that he did not have mental health problems, the court heard.

Ms Drake said: "There is nothing ... in that custody record to hint at a nervous breakdown and indeed there has been no other evidence put before you of a nervous breakdown."

Jim Booth attack
Jim Booth attack

In his speech, Edd Hetherington, for the defence, described Mr Booth as a "nice, well-liked and respected man who in his community and within his lifetime has achieved a great deal and has served his country and did not deserve what was done to him".

He said this aspect would "cloud your discussions if you don't get it out there, discuss it and put it to one side".

"Address your natural and entirely justified dislike and revulsion and complete lack of understanding of the actions of Mr Isaacs," he said, adding them it would not help them determine their verdict.

Mr Hetherington argued that there was evidence of Isaacs' "disordered thinking" and some of his actions - like asking Mr Booth about building work - were inconsistent with someone "intending to inflict fatal violence".

He ended by telling jurors: "Your job is not to pass moral judgement."

Sending the seven woman and five man jury out, Judge David Ticehurst said the attack on Mr Booth had been "vicious".

He said they could only convict Isaacs of attempted murder if the prosecution had made them sure he intended to kill Mr Booth when he attacked him.

The trial continues.