Bogus handyman who battered 96-year-old with hammer found guilty

‘Worse things happen at sea,’ says 96-year-old D-Day veteran who was battered with a hammer and left for dead as bogus handyman is found guilty of attempted murder

  • Joseph Isaacs, 40,  found guilty of attempted murder at Taunton Crown Court
  • Attacked Jim Booth, a D-Day veteran, with a claw hammer and left him for dead 
  • Isaacs hit 96 year old with claw hammer while shouting ‘money, money, money’ 

A veteran who played a key role in the D-Day landings has spoken about how his wartime experiences helped him cope after being attacked and left for dead by a hammer-wielding ‘monster’.

Jim Booth, 96, said he had not been left terribly ‘het up’ by the brutal attack at his Taunton home on November 22 last year which left him with multiple skull fractures and in a life-threatening condition.

Brave and stoic Mr Booth, who joined the Royal Navy aged 18 and served throughout the Second World War, commented: ‘Yes well, worse things happen at sea as they say, in war.’

Joseph Isaacs, 40, was found guilty of attempted murder at Taunton Crown Court after attacking Jim Booth with a claw hammer and leaving him for dead.

Mr Booth was at his home in Taunton on November 22 last year when he answered the door to Joseph Isaacs, who offered a good rate on roof repairs.

D-Day hero Jim Booth was ‘left for dead’ after being hit with a claw hammer by a robber who stole his bank card. Speaking out after the experience he said ‘worse things happen at sea’

The Duchess of Cornwall dances with Royal Navy veteran Jim Booth, 94 from Taunton, in August 2015 at a veterans’ day celebration

Taunton Crown Court heard that when Mr Booth refused, Isaacs launched his attack, hitting the veteran with a claw hammer on his head and arms while shouting ‘money, money, money’. 

Mr Booth was later told that one of the injuries on his arm showed that he had hit back.

Playing down his resistance, he said: ‘I think I probably just defended myself.

‘But I’m very much saying, I blame myself because I was special services you know, I think I should really have known how to deal with this but I didn’t, I was too old obviously.’

During the war Mr Booth joined the Combined Operations Pilotage and Reconnaissance Parties (COPP) and trained for covert beach explorations at a wartime military base set up on Hayling Island in Hampshire in 1943 under the instruction of Lord Mountbatten.

Mr Booth became a submarine pilot for the X-craft, tiny submarines that waited on the seabed for days at a time, at the age of 23.

Joseph Isaacs, pictured in a court sketch as he appeared via videoling, denied attempted murder

His team sailed from Portsmouth to Normandy to scout out where the British could safely land and on D-Day, Mr Booth climbed into a fold-up canoe and shone a beacon out to sea to guide Allied craft safely to shore.

Mr Booth was later awarded a Croix de Guerre military medal by the French for his gallantry.

Describing the attack, Mr Booth said the doorbell had rung – something which he was used to because ‘in those days I never bothered about security’.

He said: ‘There was this guy outside and in his hand was this obviously brand new, very shiny, claw hammer. He said “oh I’m a builder”.

‘I said “what’s the problem”. He said “well I see that slates up there just by the roof look at bit loose and we could give you a very good deal”.’ 

He added: ‘And then he started shouting “money, money, money”. He started lifting the thing and advanced on me, pushed me backwards, right up the passage coming into this room, from the front.

‘I now know that he, well I didn’t really remember it, but he hit me six times on the head as well as more on the arms with the claw hammer and the claw side of it too.’ 

Mr Booth, a keen cyclist, runner and gym-goer prior to the attack, said there were certain things he was no longer able to do because he was suffering from loss of balance but that he would go back to the gym as soon as he could.

Speaking of Isaacs, Mr Booth said: ‘Presumably something terrible happened in his life and who knows what it was and turned him into a near monster.

‘So to that extent I understand but obviously I can’t understand what he did frankly and why, there seems be no reason why. That’s how I am at the moment.’ 

Rachel Drake, prosecuting, told the jury Mr Booth tried to evade his attacker by retreating into his home but collapsed in his living room.

She said: ‘Mr Booth fell to the floor near a coffee table and he remembers thinking, “Oh God, I am dead”… Once Mr Booth was incapacitated the defendant took his wallet and, the Crown say, left him for dead on his living room floor.’

Isaacs, who appeared at the trial via video link from HMP Long Lartin, denied the charge of attempted murder. 

Jurors were told they would hear Mr Booth tell them that he was ‘surprised’ that the hammer in Isaacs’s hands was shiny and new, rather than worn as he would expect from a workman and also that he thought it bigger than a standard hammer.

Ms Drake said Mr Booth initially did not believe he had lost consciousness during the attack but concluded that he may have done after realising he had no recollection of Isaacs searching his things.

The court heard once he regained consciousness Mr Booth tried to find his mobile phone but could not and his landline phone appeared to be out of battery.

Mr Booth, a keen cyclist, runner and gym-goer prior to the attack, said there were certain things he was no longer able to do because he was suffering from loss of balance but that he would go back to the gym as soon as he could

Police at Mr Booth’s home following the attack last November after he was rushed to hospital

Eventually he managed to raise the alarm with neighbours after making his way out into the street.

The court heard one neighbour spotted Mr Booth and saw that his head and hands were covered in blood.

Mr Booth was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton where Ms Drake said he was found to be suffering from ‘life-threatening injuries’.

Mr Booth joined the Royal Navy as a seaman at the age of 18, serving throughout the war

She said medics noted ‘five deep lacerations’ to Mr Booth’s skull, with a ‘number of underlying skull fractures’.

He also had lacerations on both hands and a fracture to his right hand.

Ms Drake said pathologist Dr Russell Delaney had examined Mr Booth and found the injuries to be consistent with ‘multiple blunt force impacts’.

‘The force required to cause the depressed skull fractures would have been severe,’ she said, adding that the injuries to Mr Booth’s arms were consistent with him having moved them in front of his face and head to protect himself.

The jury heard that shortly after the attack Isaacs used Mr Booth’s NatWest bank card, which had been in his wallet, in Burger King at the Bridgwater Services on the M5.

The following day, November 23, he spent £6.48 in McDonald’s, £13 in Asda and £7.75 on cigarettes, the court heard.

He also bought a drink in a pub but when he attempted to use the card at 12.30pm in Burnham-on-Sea it was declined, the jury was told.

Ms Drake said officers were able to trace the transactions and link them to a vehicle which was found to be registered in the name of Isaacs’s father.

They spoke to his mother Cathleen Isaacs who told them she had reported her son missing on November 14. Isaacs was arrested on November 24.

After hearing the verdicts Rachel Drake, for the prosecution, told the court Mr Booth would like to be present for the sentencing.

Judge David Ticehurst agreed and said he would sentence Isaacs, who is appearing in court via video link from HMP Long Lartin, at 2pm on Friday.

As the jury was leaving the court, one of Mr Booth’s family members, who have been present throughout the trial, said of Isaacs: ‘He is out of our lives, thank you.’

DCI James Riccio, who led the investigation, said: ‘Joseph Isaacs called at Jim Booth’s home posing as a workman.

‘When Mr Booth declined the work being offered, Isaacs forced his way in, demanded money and subjected Mr Booth to a prolonged and barbaric ordeal.

‘He used a claw hammer to strike Mr Booth repeatedly to the head and body – even hitting him multiple times while he lay on the floor.

‘It was a cowardly act and it’s a miracle Mr Booth survived these horrific injuries.’ 

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