Man admits Portsmouth hammer attack

Police in Shearer Road after the attack. Picture: Uknip
Police in Shearer Road after the attack. Picture: Uknip

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THE man who bludgeoned a 17-year-old girl with a hammer has never given away a motive, it emerged in court as he admitted the horror attack.

Bearded James Hemming was emotionless as he entered a guilty plea to wounding with intent over the attack in Shearer Road, Fratton.

Softly-spoken Hemming looked at a sheet of paper handed to him through the high-security dock by his solicitor as he entered not guilty pleas to attempted murder and having an offensive weapon.

Few details were given about the attack and the victim has no memory of what happened, prosecutor Kerry Maylin said on Thursday.

Attempts to take a statement through an intermediary had failed.

The girl had been rushed to Southampton General Hospital after the attack with ‘life-changing injuries’.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Hemming attacked the girl with a hammer already inside the house during the incident on April 11 at about 7pm and then fled with the weapon.

Police previously said they were ‘considering whether this address was specifically targeted due to links with the sex trade’.

He was later arrested on April 29 on suspicion of attempted murder. That charge and the weapon charge will be formally dropped as the plea to wounding with intent was accepted, the court heard.

Referring to a doctor’s report Ms Maylin said: ‘There were defensive type injuries to her arms and body.’

She added: ‘In terms of victim personal statement, (the girl) is now residing at home, there has been a vast improvement from April of last year.’

No statement has been taken from the girl due to her condition.

‘She is not in a position to give a formal statement, she is adamant she has no memory of the incident,’ Ms Maylin told the court.

‘She becomes very easily confused of memories she has prior to the incident so it was decided it would not be an appropriate exercise.’

Judge Sarah Munro QC ordered a psychiatric report be completed on Hemming, of Cross Street, Portsea, and that probation assess his level of dangerousness.

If probation officers decide he is dangerous it can increase his sentence.

Judge Munro adjourned the case until December 2. The maximum sentence is life in prison.

During the hunt police offered a £5,000 reward leading to his conviction.

Police declined to comment about the case until sentencing other than to say the reward had not been claimed.

Officers also staged a reconstruction of Hemming’s movements in Queen Street, Edinburgh Road and Commercial Road prior to the attack.

CCTV images and video was released of Hemming, who was seen wearing sunglasses and a hooded top.