Exmouth man jailed over road-rage clawhammer attack

The Landkey armed robbery group were jailed for a total of 14 years at Exeter Crown Court. Picture:

Phillips was jailed at Exeter Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A hammer-wielding road rage attacker has been jailed for battering a motorist who left his empty car blocking the street outside his home in Exmouth.

Stephen Phillips was furious that the driver had walked off because his car was preventing his wife getting a lift to work with a friend.

He waited for its driver, Simon Dabbs, to return and then came out of his house armed with a clawhammer and began hitting him around the head and body.

The victim suffered round bruises on his scalp from the hammer head but was spared more serious injury by the hood of his puffer jacket, which was pulled up over his head.

Recycling worker Phillips, 60, of Windsor Square, Exmouth, admitted causing actual body harm and having a hammer as a weapon in a public place and was jailed for nine months by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him the sentence had to be immediate because it was a road-rage type attack. 

He said: "Delivering even one blow to somebody’s head with a claw hammer risks causing catastrophic injury.

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"It was purely a matter of luck that you did not cause really serious harm."

Miss Mary McCarthy, prosecuting, said the incident happened in the early evening of November 8, 2020 when a friend stopped outside Phillips' house to pick up his wife and take her to the care home where they both work.

The friend’s car was stopped temporarily outside and blocked Mr Dabbs, who demanded it was moved and walked off when it was no, leaving his own car blocking the street while he went for a walk around the block.

Phillips' wife had called the police in the meantime but when Mr Dabbs returned he was attacked without warning and repeatedly hit with the hammer and forced top to the ground, where the blows continued.

He suffered severe bruising but no fractures or head injuries. 
Phillips told police he was acting in self-defence, but a passing dog walker witnessed the entire attack and gave the lie to his story.

William Parkhill, defending, said Phillips cannot understand why he acted so out of character. He is a hard-working man who has lived with his wife at the same home for more than 30 years.

He said Philipps was very remorseful for what he has done and is keen to repay society by doing unpaid work as an alternative to an immediate jail sentence.