Grantham carer, 71, hit brother with hammer five times after cracking under strain

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A pensioner attacked his sick brother with a hammer after cracking under the strain of caring for his sibling, Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Anthony Armstrong had looked after his brother Michael,76, for 25 years at their family home in Grantham.

But in September last year fetched a hammer from the coal shed on their property and struck his brother at least five blows to the head.

Jonathan Dunn, prosecuting, said Michael Armstrong had been making his bed at the time when the younger brother approached him from behind and struck out with the weapon.

Michael Armstrong managed to make his way downstairs and sought help from a neighbour. He was bleeding heavily and was taken to hospital for treatment to a number of lacerations to the head but suffered no long lasting injury to his scalp.

Anthony Armstrong later claimed his brother had fallen out of bed but the blood-stained hammer was found by police and he later admitted what he had done.

Mr Dunn told the court: “This is an unusual and sad case. The defendant is of previous good character and had for some 25 years or so been the carer of the complainant. His brother Michael had several serious medical conditions. He was doubly incontinent and was prone to violent outbursts. From time to time he would mess himself and his brother had the task of cleaning him up.”

Mr Dunn said that since the incident in September of last year Michael Armstrong had passed away but his death was not connected with the hammer attack.

Anthony Armstrong, 71, formerly of Huntingtower Road, Grantham, but now living in a care home in the village of Bassingham near Lincoln, admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm as a result of the incident on 24 September, 2013. He was given an 18 month jail sentence suspended for a year with six months supervision.

Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, said he was able to avoid passing an immediate jail sentence because of the “highly unusual” circumstances of the case.

He told Armstrong: “Until this incident you had led an entirely blameless life and you had been someone who displayed very positive qualities.

“It is a very sad case. You looked after your parents in their declining years and in due course for 25 years you were the carer for your brother.

“You had no help. The burden that you bore can only be imagined. It was day after day, week in week out, month in month out. You bore that brother no malice and you displayed the patience of Job.”

James Gray, defending, said Armstrong had cared for his brother since the 1980s and in recent times Michael Armstrong’s condition had become increasingly worse.

Anthony Armstrong himself contracted shingles a couple of months before the incident with the hammer and he had suffered constant pain.

Mr Gray said: “He was placed under increasing strain. He reached breaking point and he went over. Things got on top of him and he just snapped.

“He has no previous convictions and has led a fairly simple life. He has never drank and he has never smoked. This is an inexplicable incident to everyone around him.

“His brother didn’t believe he knew what he was doing and said he couldn’t believe he would hit him with a hammer.”

Mr Gray said that Anthony Armstrong had not felt able to return to the family home since the incident and although he is currently in a care home he faces having to find somewhere else to live.