Jilted boyfriend's hammer attack leads to arrest in Newton Abbot

By Crown Court Reporter in Crime

A teenager has been jailed for mounting a knife and hammer attack on an elderly couple’s home after being ditched by their granddaughter.

Elliott Caruana, who was arrested in Newton Abbot, was furious after seeing Facebook pictures of his ex-girlfriend Misha Wood with a new partner and took revenge on her family home.

He bombarded her older sister with 30 calls trying to track down Misha and her boyfriend and went out armed with a claw hammer, two knives and a screwdriver.

He tried to kick and smash down the front door of grandfather Julian Wood’s house in Torquay and used the hammer to attack a neighbour who tried to intervene. 

Caruana dumped the knives in a hedge and fled before police arrived by flagging down a stranger’s car and telling her he had just been stabbed and needed to get help. 

The incident sparked a major police operation in the area near the McDonalds on the Bridge Retail Park but Caruana was arrested later that day in Newton Abbot. 

At the time of the attack he had taken Valium and alcohol and his mother was so worried about his mental state she called the police when he set out from home. 

Caruana, aged 19, of Belfield Avenue, Marldon, admitted attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm, common assault, criminal damage, threatening behaviour and possession of offensive weapons. 

He also admitted driving while disqualified and uninsured a month earlier, possession of a knife, and personal possession of cannabis and cocaine. 

He was jailed for a total of four years in a young offenders’ institution and banned from driving for three years by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, at Exeter Crown Court. He was also ordered to forfeit £925 seized by police during his first arrest. 

The judge told him: ’This was a very serious incident which was very frightening for those who witnessed it and caused very real concern. You were in a jealous rage and under the influence of drink and drugs. 

’You had gone to the length of arming yourself before you went to that family home. The most serious part was the attack on the neighbour in which you delivered two blows with the hammer. 

’They hit his head and shoulder and were forceful blows. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand the consequences could have been much more serious than they were.’

Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Caruana was on bail at the time of the main incident on April 17 because he had been stopped by police on March 9 when driving while disqualified and in possession of £175-worth of cocaine, £18-worth of cannabis, a hunting knife with a six-inch blade, and £925 cash. 

The background to the attack on the Wood family’s home was the ending of a four-year on-off relationship with 18-year-old Misha, who formed a relationship with a new partner. 

The day before the attack they posted pictures of themselves on Facebook which caused Caruana’s violent reaction. 

Mr Wraith said he started by calling Misha’s 21-year-old sister Ysanne 30 times in 90 minutes and demanding to know where he could find the couple. 

Ysanne and Misha both lived with their grandparents and she became increasingly worried about their safety, especially as her grandmother suffers from Parkinson’s disease. 

Caruana’s mother called the police when he left home carrying tablets, alcohol and weapons and shortly afterwards he called Ysanne to say he was at her house in Condor Drive and planned to smash his way in. 

Two minutes later he started kicking and hammering at the door and could be heard shouting: ’Open the f***ing door or I’ll break it down’ on the 999 tape as Mr Wood called the police. 

He used a hammer to smash the glass window of the door and kicked it so hard police found a shoe print. He only left when Mr Wood told him the police were on their way and neighbour John Wright intervened. 

Mr Wright tried to push him away but Caruana lashed out with the hammer and hit him on the shoulder and beneath the ear. He then fled and flagged down a shopper who was leaving the nearby Sainsbury car park. 

Mr Wraith said Mr Wright had made a victim impact statement in which he said the attack had had a devastating effect, with panic attacks and a sense of fear whenever h opens his front door. 

Ysanne Wood made a statement saying she is still worried about the effect on her grandparents. Julian Wood said he has been affected far more than he expected. 

Mr Paul Dentith, defending, said references from Caruana’s family showed the attack was completely out of character. 

He said: ’These were an appalling set of circumstances but he says he did not deliberately aim the hammer at Mr Wright’s head. He was aiming for the upper body and the two of them moved. He accepts it was reckless. 

’Something went dreadfully wrong that day and his mother called the police because she was concerned that his behaviour was so out extraordinarily of character.’