THUGS who hunted down a homeless man and attacked him with a hammer as he slept in a car park stairwell have each been jailed for nine years.

Gary Stock, who was living on the streets, suffered a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain as blows rained down on him in the early hours of the morning and he spent three weeks in hospital recovering from the injuries.

During a trial at Bolton Crown Court a jury heard how drug addicts Darren Anderson and Christopher Floyd had armed themselves with a lump hammer and another weapon before leaving their home in Dingle Walk in the early hours of January 17 last year to go in search of Mr Stock.

At the time Mr Stock, who was also addicted to drugs, was spending each night sleeping in the stairwell of the NCP car park at Topp Way.

The Bolton News: NCP car park at Topp Way

Sentencing Anderson, aged 45, and Floyd, aged 50, the Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh told them they had intended to cause really serious harm to Mr Stock.

“Having found him, you then engaged in a sustained and violent joint attack as he lay in his sleeping bag,” said Judge Walsh.

“He attempted in vain to defend himself but was struck several times to the head with a hammer and beaten about his body with another similar object.”

Mr Stock was left unconscious with multiple skull fractures and bleeding plus several cuts to the head and a fractured thumb. Peter Cadwallader, prosecuting, told the court that he still suffers from headaches, has now left Bolton and keeps moving location.

“He fears being caught and attacked again, if not by the defendants, then associates of the defendants,” said Mr Cadwallader.

The court heard that Anderson and Floyd still maintain they are not guilty of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm, despite a jury convicting them.

“The motive behind the attack remains unclear but it is almost certainly drug related,” said Judge Walsh.

Sarah Johnston, defending Floyd, who has 52 previous convictions for 121 offences, stressed that he has had none for violence since 2006 and that he is now withdrawing from class A drug use.

“He knows that he has years ahead of him in prison to reflect on his lifestyle choices,” she added.

Mark Friend, defending Anderson, who has 43 convictions for 109 offences, said that his criminal record is mainly for dishonesty and he has no previous convictions for violence.

He added that childhood trauma left psychological marks which led him on the path to drug addiction.

Judge Walsh told Anderson and Floyd that neither of them has shown remorse.

“I note that each of you continues to deny responsibility for the attack. The sentence to be imposed is not increased to reflect this factor, but neither you are entitled to any reduction in sentence that would have followed had you pleaded guilty,” he said.

The judge added: “There is no doubt that the injuries which you inflicted were grave.

“It is clear that the physical and the psychological impact of the attack upon Gary Stock has been significant.

“This was a sustained attack by each of you upon an extremely vulnerable victim who was homeless and seeking refuge in a town centre car park.

“He was unable to defend himself against the savage attack in which you jointly participated.

“Weapons were taken to the scene with the certain intention that they be would be used to inflict really serious injury.

“It is clear from the force that was used that there was a real intention on the part of each of you to inflict very grave injury and it is only by sheer chance that the outcome was not catastrophic.”

Judge Walsh said that he had considered imposing an extended sentence for public protection on the defendants but decided not to due to the length of time they will spend behind bars and on licence plus the lack of violence in their previous criminal records.

Anderson and Floyd will each serve six years of their prison sentences before being eligible to apply for parole.