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Husband, 77, who battered bedridden wife's head with hammer is jailed

Husband, 77, is jailed for three years after battering his 76-year-old bedridden wife’s head with a hammer then telling police: ‘I hope I’ve killed her’

  • Stephen Hollow, 77, from Birmingham, attacked wife Margaret with a hammer
  • Hollow was sole carer of wife, of 38 years, who suffered from various conditions
  • Medics had raised concerns about behaviour after a supposed suicide attempt
  • After attack on his wife, Hollow called 999 and told operator about the incident
  • He pleaded guilty to a count of attempted murder at Birmingham Crown Court 

Stephen Hollow repeatedly struck his wife of 38-years, Margaret, with the tool in a ‘brutal’ attempt to end her life

A pensioner fractured his 76-year-old bedridden wife’s skull with a hammer before telling police ‘I hope I’ve just killed her’.

Stephen Hollow repeatedly struck his wife of 38-years, Margaret, with the tool in a ‘brutal’ attempt to end her life.

After the attack, the 77-year-old, who was his wife’s sole carer, then dialled 999.

A ‘calm’ Hollow told a call handler how he had ‘tried to look after’ his wife, that it had ‘not worked out’ and that he had ‘reached the end of his tether’.

He then admitted giving her ‘about 12 raps’ with a hammer.

Mrs Hollow, who suffers from a ‘plethora’ of ailments, including Alzheimer’s, survived the attack.  

But she suffered bleeding to the surface of the brain and a skull fracture and, after treatment, was transferred to a nursing home.

Now Hollow, of Erdington, Birmingham, has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

Birmingham Crown Court was told how Mr Hollow was the sole carer of his wife and had ‘no family or friends to offer support’.

The court heard his wife had a ‘plethora’ of ailments including Alzheimer’s, a heart condition, a lung disease and hypertension.

Concern grew for Hollow’s own mental health in April this year after he was treated at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital after a supposed suicide attempt.

He was later discharged, though staff expressed concern about his behaviour.

Hollow had some respite caring help between the end of May and early June, before carrying out his attack on his wife on June 3. After the attack, he rang 999.

Birmingham Crown Court was told how Mr Hollow was the sole carer of his wife and had ‘no family or friends to offer support’

Phillip Bradley, prosecuting, said: ‘The defendant told the operator: “I have just killed her, my wife. It is a long story.”

‘He said: “She has been ill for some time. I tried to look after her but it has not worked out. I have bashed her head in with a hammer. I gave her about 12 raps. I am not ill myself but could not take it any more.

‘He added: “I am afraid I was at the end of my tether.”‘

Mr Bradley said Hollow was ‘extremely calm’ when he showed police officers where his wife was.

She was still conscious and speaking intermittently, the court heard. Hollow later spoke to a police officer telling her: ‘I hope I have killed her.’

He also told a probation officer: ‘I was pacing up and down. I switched on the TV but could not watch it.

‘I thought to myself: “This is no bloody good” and I decided to do what I did.’ 

He said Hollow had spoken about suffocating his wife with a pillow and a previous discovery of her medication blister packets being emptied demonstrated he had considered ‘another route’.

Mrs Hollow, he said, was particularly and inherently vulnerable because of her age and disability and the defendant’s actions indicated planning.

Balbir Singh, mitigating, said it was a tragic case and the couple had no children, relatives or friends.

Over time Mrs Hollow’s physical condition had deteriorated and so had her husband’s mental condition, he said.

Mr Singh said: ‘This would not have been contemplated if he had not been severely unwell.

He said Hollow, who adored his wife but had seen her lose her dignity, had come to the conclusion that it was ‘the only way out’. 

Passing sentence Judge Avik Mukherjee told Hollow: ‘You were her main carer, you were isolated and had limited support.

Medics had raised concern for Hollow’s mental health in April this year after after he was treated at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital (pictured) a supposed suicide attempt

‘In my judgement part of you resented what you had to do for her and how it affected your life but part of you felt sorry for her and her plight and lack of quality in her life.

‘You decided to end her life in the most brutal of ways. That was your intention. This was a planned attempt to kill your wife. It was not spontaneous.

‘You inflicted up to 12 blows with the hammer.

‘I am satisfied this was not a mercy killing. There was nothing that suggested she wanted to die or take her own life.’

But the judge said it was an ‘exceptional case’ and told Hollow: ‘Your culpability has been significantly reduced because of your mental health.

‘I accept that you were suffering from a depressive disorder at the time and perceived that killing her was the right thing to do for her and for yourself.

‘There has been some physical and psychological harm although the extent of either may not become apparent until some time in the future.’

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