Valentine’s date turns to claw hammer horror

A ROMANTIC Valentine’s date turned into an evening of bloodshed when a terrifying hammer attack left a young woman with a fractured skull.

Leon Agius thanked Francesca Scott for her loving card and chocolate heart by unleashing a ‘terrifying, premeditated campaign of violence’ on the Weston College student.

On Tuesday he pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, with Bristol Crown Court hearing how he throttled his date until she passed out and in a frenzied attack hit her several times over her head and face with a claw hammer.

Agius, aged 17 at the time of the incident, then put tape over his badly-injured victim’s mouth and around her hands and told her he would bundle her into his car boot.

The attack took place in the early hours of February 14, 2009, after Agius, also a Weston College student, had arranged to meet Miss Scott, then aged 21, in the centre of Weston at 10.30pm the previous evening.

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She greeted him with a Valentine’s card and the chocolate heart with ‘Be Mine’ written on it and he drove her the 11 miles to his home, where the pair planned to watch a film for their first date.

Once inside Agius’ lounge he and Miss Scott, who has mild learning difficulties, began to play fight and play ‘mercy’, before the evening turned increasingly violent.

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The defendant, who suffers with autism, put his hands around the victim’s throat and squeezed her neck until she lost consciousness.

James Ward, prosecuting, said: “Miss Scott thought she was about to be lucky in love, but she was about to meet an individual who thought the most appropriate way to thank her for her chocolate heart was by unleashing a terrifying, pre-mediated campaign of violence on her.

“Leon had Fran in leg locks as it was part of the game, she said at first it was just fun.

“But then it got serious when Leon put his hands on her throat and she passed out.

“She remembered coming to and his hands were still around her throat and she began gasping ‘mercy’.”

Miss Scott passed out again and when she regained consciousness once more, she saw she had been moved - and Agius had a hammer.

Mr Ward said: “On regaining consciousness she noticed that she was caked in blood.

“She looked up and saw he was holding a claw hammer and he bashed it against her head.

“She said he was behaving like a tiger in a cage.

“The victim asked him why he was doing it and he replied ‘because nobody in my family respects me’.

“She said she respected him and he hammered her again.

“The victim said she thought she would die, but that she heard the voices of her loved ones.

“Agius said he was doing it because he was evil and then hit her several more times with the claw hammer.

“Miss Scott told him the police would find her body but he said he would bury her and then crouched down beside her and asked ‘do you feel like you want to die?’

“He went into the kitchen and cleaned the hammer and began mopping blood off the sofa with a tissue.

“She told him that she would tell people she had been attacked down a dark alley in a different incident and kept repeating it and he fell for it.

“He put tape on her mouth and hands and told her he would put her into his boot.

“But she said she would get sick and leave more evidence so he then said he would put her in the back of the car and put black bags down so that she did not get blood on the seats.

“In the defendant’s own words he was evil.

“This was a harrowing and chilling event.”

Once outside Agius’ house the victim wiped her blood onto the defendant’s sister’s bike to leave evidence for police and did the same on the back seats of the car.

Agius dropped Miss Scott outside her flat in Ashcombe Court, Ashcombe Road, Weston, at about 2am on February 14.

Badly injured, Miss Scott knocked on her neighbour’s window and an ambulance was called.

When police searched Agius’ home at 1pm the same day they found baby wipes covered in blood and the card and envelope in the bin, although the hammer was never recovered.

Mr Ward described how Miss Scott had previously been a successful student and had lived in her own flat, but since the attack she has had to go into supported accommodation and had only managed to go back to college one day a week.

He added that she suffers from panic attacks and nightmares.

A victim impact statement from Miss Scott said that she wished Agius was dead and that he ‘can rot in hell’.

The court also heard on Tuesday how bad character evidence from a social worker showed how Agius had previously bound his sister’s hands with tape and told her he would kill her in her sleep.

Richard Carey-Hughes, defending, said: “This is a serious case and an emotive case, but not a case where I will indulge in tabloid advocacy.

“The defendant has been in custody nearly two years.”

Agius’ defence lawyers wanted His Honour Judge Ford QC to give a hybrid order where the defendant would spend part of a sentence in a hospital and the other in prison.

After hearing medical evidence, the case was adjourned for a decision to be made.

It is likely to be listed for mention at Bristol Crown Court within two weeks and Agius was remanded in custody.

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