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Man jailed for violent hammer attack on wife

PUBLISHED: 14:57 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:22 29 January 2020

Stephen Crush, who was jailed for 13-and-a-half years at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Stephen Crush, who was jailed for 13-and-a-half years at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

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A man who violently attacked his wife with a hammer causing injuries which have left her unable to speak has been jailed for 13-and-a-half years.

The scene in Victoria Road, Lowestoft  Picture:  Jame HoneywoodThe scene in Victoria Road, Lowestoft Picture: Jame Honeywood

Stephen Crush, of Victoria Road, Lowestoft, struck his wife Sarah Crush "at least three times" in the head with a lump hammer following an argument at their home, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Police received a 999 call at 11.37pm on September 9 last year from Stephen Crush, 59, who said he had killed his wife after hitting her with a hammer.

He later said his wife was still breathing and officers arrived within minutes, the court heard.

Sarah Crush, 39, was found lying on her back in the kitchen, with congealed blood around the area of her head.

Forensic officers at Victoria Road in Lowestoft following the attack Picture: Jamie HoneywoodForensic officers at Victoria Road in Lowestoft following the attack Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Stephen Crush told officers: "I just lost it. I hit her on the head with a hammer."

A blood-stained lump hammer was found in a trench in the garden, which had been dug as part of work on a planned extension.

The couple's nine-year-old son was upstairs during the attack, the court heard. He now lives with his maternal grandparents.

In police interview on September 10, Crush told detectives that he had been "becoming paranoid that his wife was trying to poison him and his son", Peter Gair, prosecuting, said.

A police presence on Victoria Road, Lowestoft, following the incident which saw Stephen Crush jailed for 13-and-a-half years Picture: Jamie HoneywoodA police presence on Victoria Road, Lowestoft, following the incident which saw Stephen Crush jailed for 13-and-a-half years Picture: Jamie Honeywood

"He thought he had hit her two or three times from what he could remember," Mr Gair said.

The court heard it was an hour or two after the incident before Crush decided to dial 999.

Sarah Crush was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where she remained for several weeks, before subsequently being transferred to another hospital where she continues to receive treatment.

Her injuries were described as life-threatening and life-changing and "she currently cannot and does not speak", Mr Gair added.

Doctors confirmed that the injuries sustained showed Sarah Crush had been struck "at least three times", the court heard.

Crush, who had a previous conviction for assaulting his wife, pleaded guilty to attempted murder on December 12.

Sarah Crush's brother Simon Griffiths read a victim impact statement in court where he said the lives of the family had "changed beyond comprehension" since the attack.

He described the "far-reaching and long-standing consequences" of the incident.

"We do not know how much of her we will get back," he told the court.

Jude Durr, defending, said Stephen Crush's mental health had declined following a hernia operation a few years ago.

But no medical evidence was provided to the court and the judge said there was also no evidence to support any claims about poisoning.

"He does express real and genuine remorse," Mr Durr said.

Sentencing Stephen Crush today, Judge Rupert Overbury said: "You have deprived a young child, your son, of his mother's care.

"You have deprived not only him, but the wider family of seeing that Sarah again."

Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Millar, the senior investigating officer, said: "This was an horrendous act of violence for which Stephen Crush has been unable to offer any proper explanation. Sarah has been left with potentially life-threatening and life-changing injuries that require 24-hour care and are so severe, she is unlikely to ever recover from them.

"Having struck Sarah on the head once with a heavy implement - which is used for construction work - Crush then hit her at least two more times, at which point she would have been vulnerable and completely defenceless. He then effectively left her for dead by going upstairs for the rest of the evening whilst she remained unconscious on the kitchen floor, before finally contacting emergency services.

"This was a spontaneous act and a violation of trust and security against his wife, and in using the lump hammer to strike her multiple times he caused extensive damage to her skull.

"Not only has this destroyed the life of a 39-year-old woman, but as with most cases of domestic violence, there has been a significant impact on the immediate family too.

"Although we are satisfied that justice has been delivered, there are no winners in these situations, and I can only hope that Sarah's condition improves over time and that the pain for the family members who have been left devastated by this incident gradually eases."

Judge Overbury sentenced Crush to 13-and-a-half years and he will spend at least half that time in custody.

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