Hammer attack victim and neighbours welcome jail sentence
THE victim of a Paignton man jailed for a hammer attack has welcomed his eight-year sentence.
Persistent offender James Salt (pictured), 40, hit David Mason over the head, fracturing his skull and leaving him staggering and bleeding.
Mr Mason, 59, was struck so hard that he now has a permanent indentation in his skull, big enough to put his finger in.
Salt, a former RAF aircraftman, at first denied taking part in the attack and the case went to trial at Exeter Crown Court.
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But after two witnesses had given evidence he changed his plea and admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Neighbours of Salt have also welcomed the sentence saying they can now live in peace.
The attack happened in a housing block in Roundham Road in Paignton on August 6 last year.
Mr Mason, who had argued with his girlfriend Julie Richardson, called at the home of Salt in the early hours to see if she was there.
Salt told him she was not but as Mr Mason started to leave he was attacked by Mark Thompson, a friend of Salt.
Prosecutor David Evans told the court that Thompson 'repeatedly kicked and stamped' on Mr Mason as he was on the floor.
"While this was happening Salt was in the doorway watching," said Mr Evans.
Mr Mason managed to get up and leave the building but as he was walking away Salt attacked him.
Mr Evans said: "He heard someone approaching and half turned around towards the flats and felt a blow to the left hand side of his head.
"He saw the defendant was holding something and thought it was a hammer.
"He said, 'what the hell is going on?' but got no response.
Injured and covered in blood he was spotted by a passer-by who called an ambulance.
Salt bragged to neighbours that he had used the hammer as a weapon but denied it when arrested.
His victim suffered a depressed skull fracture.
"I've been depressed and it has done my head in," said Mr Mason.
"I don't want to go out of the house."
Kevin Hopper, representing Salt, said: "Notwithstanding the use of a hammer, in no way was the attack premeditated."
Salt has a long list of previous convictions for low-level crime, including possessing a blade, spitting at a police officer, criminal damage to a neighbour's property, and battery.
Judge Francis Gilbert QC said they 'paled into insignificance' compared to his latest crime.
After the sentence, neighbours said living next to Salt had been hell.
Michael Heather, who lives in the same block said: "We've had problems with him for six years and we must have complained about him 30 or 40 times.
"I've sent letters to the council, the chief constable, the MP and the Home Office about him because of the noise he made and the criminal damage."
His wife Heather said she felt that they had got 'peace and justice' at last.
DC Sarah Briggs, of Torbay CID, said: "This was a cowardly attack by James Salt who inflicted serious harm on David Mason in a premeditated attack with a hammer.
"Mr Mason suffered a very serious head injury that could have proven fatal.
"I consider Salt to be a dangerous and violent man. I welcome the news that he is now serving a lengthy sentence at her majesty's pleasure."