By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
It was the middle of the night when 35-year-old Victorian man, Eric Phillip Pickford, broke into the home of an 83-year-old woman living nearby him in Morwell, and in his intoxicated state, bashed the elderly resident multiple times with a hammer.
The 83-year-old was listening to the radio trying to fall asleep when she unexpectedly heard glass break inside her home.
In the darkness, her instinct guided her to arm herself with a metal pole.
As Mr Pickford entered her bedroom, the woman struck the man with the pole.
But that wasn’t enough to keep him at bay.
The man went on to attack the woman with a hammer, bludgeoning her repeatedly as he made impact with her head and upper body – the attack against her so vicious that it split her nose open.
She also suffered multiple lacerations and heavy bruising.
The woman managed to flee next door for help.
Prior to the incident, which took place on March 6 last year, Mr Pickford has spent the night drinking cask wine and watching television at a friend’s house in Morwell, the pair eventually getting into a fight.
On 24 August 2020, Mr Pickford was sentenced to four years and three months in jail for the brutal attack, pleading guilty to two counts of recklessly causing a serious injury and two counts of criminal damage.
Attack on Elderly Woman So “Vicious” She Required Plastic Surgery
At Mr Pickford’s sentencing, it was heard the elderly woman was so viciously attacked that she required plastic surgery to repair her nose.
Furthermore, in a victim impact statement tendered to the court, it was revealed the assault on the woman had destroyed her life, her independence and peace of mind.
“It is disturbing and distressing to our community to see an assault of any nature, let alone a serious one such as yours, on an 83-year-old woman in her own home at night in her bedroom,” Victorian County Court Judge Scott Johns said.
“Your actions are appalling and disturbing,” he added.
Judge Johns also described the woman as “an extremely brave lady for acting in self-defence in the manner in which she did”.
The judge acknowledged Mr Pickford was heavily intoxicated, he entered in the dark and “could not have known” that the person who struck him with the pole was an 83-year-old woman.
Court Hears Offender Had History of Alcohol Abuse
The court also heard Mr Pickford had mental health issues and a history of alcohol abuse at the time of the offending.
He started smoking cannabis at the age of 14, and prior to his arrest, was smoking two grams of the drug per day.
“Your intoxication, possibly precipitating psychosis … does attract some mitigation to the extent that it explains this bizarre, unpremeditated and unprovoked attack without motive,” Judge Johns said.
Following his sentence being handed down, Mr Pickford asked the judge if the coronavirus would reduce the duration of his jail term.
The man must serve at least two years and three months before he is eligible for parole.
It is against the law to cause reckless grievous bodily harm or wounding to another person.
Grievous bodily harm is injury considered ‘really serious injury’. This includes broken bones, and can extend to HIV.
Wounding includes broken skin such as a split up lip.
In NSW, Recklessly causing grievous bodily harm attracts up to 10-years jail with a 4-year standard non-parole period.
Recklessly cause wounding attracts up to 7-years jail, and a 3-years standard non-parole period.
Heavier penalties apply if any of these offences occur in company.
These penalties are outlined in section 35 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
Have a question? Direct it to our criminal lawyers in Blacktown, Parramatta or Sydney.