Father who attempted to murder children with hammer jailed for life

Owen Scott: Has been jailed for life at Sheffield Crown Court and ordered to serve a minimum term of 14 years for attempted murder. Photo credit: /PA Wire
Owen Scott: Has been jailed for life at Sheffield Crown Court and ordered to serve a minimum term of 14 years for attempted murder. Photo credit: /PA Wire

A father attacked his three young children and stepdaughter with a hammer during a cocaine-induced psychotic episode and then drove them into a wall at 92mph, a court has heard.

A judge heard the four children were left with life-changing injuries by Owen Scott's actions, with his seven-year-old daughter losing a large part of her skull, leaving her partially paralysed and needing to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Scott, who claims to have no memory of the incident, was arrested after his car crashed into the Travellers Inn at a remote location near Penistone, South Yorkshire, in August.

He was jailed for life at Sheffield Crown Court on Thursday after admitting four counts of attempted murder and dangerous driving at an earlier hearing.

The judge, Mrs Justice O'Farrell, ordered him to serve a minimum of 14 years before he can apply to be released.

She heard how Scott had been a loving father to his children, aged seven, 21 months and nine months, and his stepdaughter, eight, even after the breakdown of his relationship with his former partner.

But in the weeks before the incident, he developed paranoia, put down to a temporary psychosis caused by his long-term recreational cocaine and cannabis use.

Prosecutor Simon Keeley QC said Scott became convinced he was being chased by a gang who meant him and his children harm.

Scott picked up the children - who lived with his ex-partner Sheryl Rogers in the Southampton area - and went on a two-day trip around the country, crashing into the pub 230 miles from their home in the early hours of August 23.

Mr Keeley said police had only traced part of Scott's route but he first went to the Isle of Wight before travelling to Liverpool.

He bought a satnav in Colne, Lancashire, and visited a Burger King in Bury, Greater Manchester, before heading to the Huddersfield area and then into South Yorkshire, where the crash happened on the A629.

A police sergeant who witnessed the collision said uninjured Scott clambered over the seriously injured children after the crash.

Two girls were found on top of each other on the central console of the car, a 21-month-old boy was found in a footwell and his little brother was in a carry-cot, also in a footwell, the judge heard.

"You made no attempt to comfort or assist them or check whether they were injured," the judge said.

The judge spent 10 minutes listing the "life-threatening and life-changing" injuries suffered by each child, including multiple blows to the head consistent with a hammer found in the car.

As well as the seven-year-old girl losing part of her skull, having to have a shunt fitted which will drain fluid from her head for the rest of her life and undergoing 13 operations, the 21-month-old still has a hole in his skull which will require further surgery, the judge said.

Both the boys have to wear protective helmets.

Michelle Colborne QC, defending, said her client was a recreational drug user who had been taking cannabis since he was 13 and spent £100 on cocaine at weekends.

She said doctors believe he was suffering a temporary psychotic episode caused by his drug use.

Miss Colborne said Scott was convinced a Southampton-based gang was after him and his children and he tried to kill the children to save them from a worse fate.

The judge told him: "You, their father, on whom they were entitled to rely for love, affection and comfort and, in particular, on whom they did rely to keep them safe, inflicted shocking injuries that will have long-term limiting implications for them.

"You will have to live for the rest of your life knowing that you have damaged, in some cases irrecoverably, the health, both physically and psychologically, of your children."

Ms Rogers is "haunted by the screams of her children that she heard when she first saw them in hospital".

Scott, of Heather Road, Fawley, Hampshire, sat in the dock wearing a grey shirt and tie and flanked by a security guard.

He showed no apparent emotion at any point during the hearing.

Detective Chief Inspector David Stopford, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "The scene, when officers first attended, was so horrific that they were astounded to find the children were alive.

"This has been, without doubt, one of the most harrowing cases I've worked on. The ordeal those young children were subjected to was utterly horrendous and I'm pleased that Scott has today been jailed for a significant length of time.

"Three of the four children are now recovering at home with their family. A seven-year-old girl is still receiving treatment in hospital today but we are hopeful she will soon be able to be at home with her family and her siblings."

Peter Mann from the CPS said: "This was a serious and determined effort to kill four young children. Each of them has suffered traumatic and life-changing injuries as a result of this incident, and one child remains in hospital.

"Medical specialists concluded that Scott inflicted multiple, deliberate blows upon them consistent with a hammer attack. The sheer ferocity of the attack and the appalling nature of the children's injuries is utterly shocking.

"Our thoughts remain with them along with their family and friends."