Belfast Telegraph

Man savagely beat elderly uncle with a hammer until he thought he was dead, court told

By Staff Reporter

A 44-year-old man battered his 73-year-old uncle over the head with a hammer until he thought he was dead and then phoned police to confess to the murder, a court has heard.

Paul Hartop allegedly told police he was surprised his uncle was still alive after officers found the critically-ill pensioner was still breathing.

He was remanded in custody charged with attempting to murder his uncle, Brendan Hartop, in Co Tyrone on Sunday.

The pensioner was found at his home at Main Street, Dromore, on Sunday morning.

The investigating police officer told Fermanagh Magistrate’s Court he believed he could connect Hartop with the charge.

He told the court that Hartop contacted the police on Sunday to say he had murdered his 73-year-old uncle.

When officers arrived at the pensioner’s home, Hartop let them in and told them his uncle was upstairs.

The officers found the pensioner critically injured but still breathing. He was taken away in an ambulance.

The constable said that during a police interview Hartop said there had been a family dispute and he believed his family had been conspiring to have him thrown out onto the street.

He had decided to kill his sister and her husband, or his uncle.

Hartop decided to kill his elderly uncle as it was the “easier option”.

He made his way from England to Northern Ireland and to the village of Dromore at the weekend.

Hartop went into a shed at his uncle’s home and removed a hammer.

He then went into the house and hid in an upstairs room where he lay in wait for a number of hours until his uncle arrived home.

On his uncle’s return, Hartop waited until the pensioner was asleep and went into his bedroom and hit him twice on the head with the hammer.

Believing he had killed him, he then went to bed. At around 8.30am the following morning he got up and noticed that his uncle had moved.

Hartop put a towel over the pensioner’s head before striking him a further number of times on the head with the hammer. The officer said Hartop expressed surprise that the pensioner was still alive.

The constable told the court the pensioner was in a “critical” condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

He objected to Hartop being granted bail on the grounds that he had said he intended to kill his sister and brother-in-law. There was also the chance that he might not turn up for his trial.

Defence solicitor Michael Fahy said he was not applying for bail as Hartop was currently of no fixed abode.

He added that further down the line there may be some mental health issues in relation to Hartop’s fitness to plead to the charge.

Hartop was remanded in custody to appear at Omagh Magistrate’s Court by video link on March 27.

District Judge Mervyn Bates told Hartop he had the right to apply for bail, adding: “I have to inform you that there are strong, and it appears to me reasonable, reasons for you not being admitted to bail.”

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