Lee-on-the-Solent man 'went berserk' and attempted to kill his mum and stepdad in 'vicious attack', court hears

A PROJECT manager working on London’s Nightingale hospital at the ExCeL centre ‘went berserk’ and attempted to murder his mum and stepdad in a vicious bloody attack, a court has heard.

By Tom Cotterill
Monday, 1st February 2021, 7:32 pm
Updated Monday, 1st February 2021, 7:41 pm

James Wells, 43, of Lee-on-the-Solent, is accused of attacking Linda Holford and her husband Adrian Holford at their home on March 30 last year.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Wells had become stressed at work and was driven to the couple’s home in Shalbourne, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, by a colleague.

He allegedly used fireplace tools at the detached property, as well as a pewter tankard, to bludgeon the couple – in their 70s – hours after arriving.

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Exterior of Bristol Crown Court today PICTURE: Malcolm Wells

He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of attempted murder and is on trial.

Ray Tully, prosecuting, told jurors it was accepted that a ‘vicious attack’ was carried out by Wells that resulted in life-threatening injuries, particularly to his mother.

‘The real issue in the case is going to relate to the mental state of Mr Wells at the time that he carried out that attack,' Mr Tully said.

‘Nobody in this case is going to suggest that prior to these events he was anything other than a hardworking family man.’

The court heard that Wells had worked on projects across the world, including the Beijing Olympics, before starting a role handling catering at the Nightingale hospital.

Colleagues thought he seemed well on March 27, when he returned home to his wife and two children for the weekend, but he sent emails the following morning that seemed ‘agitated and fraught’, Mr Tully said.

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Workmates raised concerns on March 29, when he was back at work, as he seemed ‘stressed’ and it was agreed that he would speak to someone about his wellbeing.

On March 30, he was in an ‘emotional state’ at work and seemed ‘upset about work-related matters and stressed about them’, Mr Tully told jurors.

Wells was ‘clearly distressed and emotional’ when he spoke to an occupational health nurse, who he told he had not slept for four days and said he believed he was having a breakdown.

It was agreed that Wells would be taken to his mother and stepfather’s home to get some ‘respite’ and a colleague drove him there, Mr Tully said.

The court heard that Wells arrived at the property at about 4pm and went for a walk with his mother, ate dinner with the couple and then went to bed before re-emerging with a case.

‘They asked him what he was doing,’ Mr Tully said.

‘Adrian Holford says that following that he went absolutely berserk. James was to grab Linda by the throat and push her to the floor.

‘He tried to strangle her. There was kicking, headbutting and punching of her. He picked up the poker and ash pan and she was struck with them.

‘The defendant then grabbed a pewter tankard and that too was used as a weapon. Adrian tried to intervene and he was headbutted. He was also struck about the head with the tankard.’

Mr Holford called 999 while Wells was in the shower washing off the blood, the court heard. At one stage, he overheard Wells say: ‘I want to murder Mum.’

Police and paramedics attended a short time later, at around 7.50pm, and a Taser was used on Wells who was then arrested and taken into custody.

Mrs Holford spent a month in hospitals receiving treatment for injuries including a fractured skull, facial fractures, broken eye sockets and teeth, and bleeding on her brain.

Mr Holford sustained lacerations to his scalp, a puncture fracture to his skull, and a broken jaw and nose.

Wells also denies assaulting a police officer who he is alleged to have spat on while being placed in the back of a police car following hospital treatment for minor injuries.

He denies the three charges against him and the trial continues.

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