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Doctor tells court he didn't think D-Day veteran would survive hammer attack

96-year-old Jim Booth was attacked in his home with a claw hammer Credit: Copp Heroes

A hospital consultant has told a jury at Taunton Crown Court he prepared the 96 year-old's family “for the worst” after assessing his injuries following an attack.

D-Day veteran Jim Booth suffered multiple head injuries after he was attacked in his home in Taunton with a claw hammer in November last year.

Joseph Isaacs, 40, of no fixed address, is on trial for attempted murder, which he denies. He has already pleaded guilty to charges of grievous bodily harm with intent, aggravated burglary and a number of fraud charges.

On the second day of the trial (Tuesday), the jury heard evidence from medical staff at Musgrove Park Hospital who treated Mr Booth in the hours after the attack.

Mr Booth was an elderly, frail gentleman with significant head injuries, brain injuries and skull fractures. I was concerned he may die because of those injuries. I actually spoke to his daughters to raise those concerns and prepare them for the worst.

– Martin Horton, a consultant in emergency medicine

Also giving evidence was pathologist Russell Delaney, who was asked to give an expert assessment of Mr Booth’s injuries. Looking at photographs of the wounds, Mr Delaney described how they were consistent with being inflicted by a “circular profile object”. Presiding judge, Mr Justice Ticehurst asked: “Like a hammer?” Mr Delaney replied: “Yes, such as a hammer or an iron bar.” He described one injury to the back of Mr Booth’s head as a “depressed fracture – where part of the skull bone has been forced inwards meaning there has been some focussed energy on the skull to cause the depressed segment.” Asked to comment on the number of blows which may have been inflicted on Mr Booth, Mr Delaney said it was likely to have been “multiple blunt force impacts.”

Jim Booth (centre) with the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012 Credit: PA

Defence barrister Edd Hetherington asked Mr Delaney if it was fair to say that older patients have more brittle bones, to which he replied: “I have not seen anything to suggest Mr Booth had abnormally weak bones. In the context of the impacts from a weapon I have not seen anything to say his bones were more vulnerable to fracturing. The skull is less prone, in the elderly, to age related weakening.”

The prosecution also read statements to the jury which were taken by police at the time of the attack on Jim Booth. They included accounts from his neighbours who described him as being “very fit, often out on his bike and working in his garden”. Another account described him as being “a very independent gentleman, a clever man who was in the Navy and took part in the D-Day landings.” One statement from a neighbour, Diana Booth, described walking home to find Mr Booth in the street with his “hands, head, face and parts of his clothes covered in blood”. The statement said: “Jim said to me ‘I’ve been hit on the head’”.

Jim Booth was the sole survivor of an undercover WWII operation Credit: COPP Heroes

Yesterday (Monday), during the first day of the trial, saw the prosecution outline its case. Prosecuting, Rachel Drake told the jury how Mr Booth opened his front door to Joseph Isaacs on 22nd November 2017, who offered repairs to his roof. When Mr Booth refused, the prosecution said Mr Isaacs became aggressive – rushing at Mr Booth inside his house shouting “money, money, money” and hitting him with a claw hammer that he was carrying. Rachel Drake said: “Mr Booth’s stubbornness angered him and in that moment he decided to kill him.”

Isaacs denies the attempted murder charge against him. Credit: IRVING OF EXETER

The prosecution said Mr Isaacs left Mr Booth’s house with his contactless debit card which he used to buy food over the next two days in places like Burger King in Bridgwater and at a café in Burnham-On-Sea. The jury heard he was arrested after the car he was the main driver of was tracked alongside the locations of the payments – eventually being arrested in North Somerset. The prosecution said inside his car was a cheque made out to Mr Booth from his daughter. The jury was told after his arrest and during police interview Isaacs replied “no comment’ to all questions.

Joseph Isaacs watched the trial via video link from prison, as he did on the first day. He denies attempted murder and the trial continues tomorrow when he is expected to attend in person.