Ayrshire hammer attacker jailed for shop worker murder bid

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A violent robber who struck a shop worker over the head with a hammer ten times has been jailed for 12 years.

James McMurdy carried out the attack on Senga Houston after he had grabbed £500 from the till.

At the High Court in Glasgow yesterday judge Lord Mulholland told McMurdy: “What you have done was nothing short of barbaric – an act of pure evil.”

The court heard that after grabbing the cash McMurdy, 40, hit Ms Houston, 63, over the head.

As she cowered with her hands over her head to protect herself, McMurdy pulled her hands away and he struck her over the head another nine times.

She suffered multiple fractures to her skull and injury to her brain. She had to undergo multiple operations and now suffers from depression, post traumatic stress disorder and has little or no peripheral vision.

Lord Mulholland told McMurdy that, but for his guilty plea, he would have jailed him for 18 years.

He also ordered McMurdy to be monitored on licence for five years after his release from prison and told him: “Her life has been changed forever. You have shown no remorse.”

McMurdy raided the store in Catrine, East Ayrshire, in November 2017 desperate for cash as he faced eviction from his flat.

McMurdy, who was represented by defence counsel John McElroy, pled guilty to robbery and attempted murder.

He showed no emotion as he was led away to begin his sentence.

Ms Houston had worked at the Premier Convenience store in Catrine for around eight years.

She was there alone around 2:40pm on 5 November when McMurdy came in through the back of the shop.

He was clutching a hammer and a knife with his face covered with a piece of bedsheet.

McMurdy moved her towards the counter and demanded she open the till.

The CCTV footage of the horrific attack was played in court at an earlier hearing. McMurdy refused to look at the screens as it was played.

Officers found a knife, £485 and a blood-stained hammer at McMurdy’s home.

Ms Houston was only discharged from hospital on 10 January this year – two months after the attack.

Her sight has been permanently affected and she is no longer able to drive or work.