Fame Irene Cara
26 January 2012, 16:27
A callous brute who bludgeoned a pensioner to death in his own home as he tried to find out his PIN number has been jailed for life.
David Clairmonte, 26, was told he would have to serve a minimum of 30 years before he can be considered for release.
Just hours before the murder of popular pensioner, 69 year old Fred Hodsdon, Clairmonte had been to his local hospital suffering from depression. It was decided by a health professional who saw him at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital that he didn't represent a danger to anyone else.
He was however offered a three day assessment as a voluntary patient at a psychiatric unit.
He could have gone in that day, but Clairmonte spurned the offer.
That evening around 5pm he turned up at Mr Hodsdon's detached bungalow in Luton, Beds.
Passing sentence Judge Richard Foster told Clairmonte "It's quite clear you went there planning to steal from that house and sell items. You tried to extract from him in that house details of his PIN number."
But the judge said it was also clear his victim had put up some resistance. The judge said of the pensioner "He was kind and helpful and would do anything to help people."
Unemployed and hard up drug user Clairmonte had worked at the vulnerable widower's bungalow home three years earlier and knew he would be alone.
He went back to Fred Hodsdon's home in June of last year and, after finding him in his garden, called out "Do you remember me? I did your roof for you."
Clairmonte first attacked Mr Hodsdon in his garden shed with a hammer he found there.
Then, after bundling the old man into his cul-de-sac home in Vespers Close, Luton, Beds., Clairmonte subjected him to a sickening hammer attack.
Clairmonte, who had just been turned down for a "short term pay day loan," bound the pensioner's hands behind him using electricians tape.
Then he led him from room to room, beating him with the hammer. Mr Hodsdon's blood was found throughout the bungalow.
Having got Mr Hodsdon's credit card and what he thought was its PIN number, Clairmonte then left the old man lying face down on his sofa in a pool of blood.
He went to a nearby cashpoint machine at a Tesco Express store, but failed in his attempt to withdraw £100.
A concerned neighbour found Mr Hodsdon. He told the police later that where Fred's head should have been was a "mass of red jelly."
He had suffered 13 hammer blows to his face and head. A pathologist said later the injuries had left his skull like a "broken porcelain egg."
At Luton crown court, Clairmonte of Thornview Road, Houghton Regis, Beds., was found guilty by a jury of seven men and five women of the murder of the pensioner on June 25 last year.
He was arrested at his home later that night and police found the hammer he had used, soaked in Mr Hodsdon's blood.
Clairmonte was convicted after trying to hoodwink the jury with a tissue of lies from the witness box.
He said he and his father had previously carried out a repair to the garage at Mr Hodsdon's home and he had gone back to see him because he knew the work had not been done properly.
He claimed he left, but returned some twenty minutes later to tell the pensioner when he would come back to do the work.
"I went to the kitchen and knocked on the glass door and called his name. There was no answer. So I stuck my head in. There was a hell of a mess in the kitchen. I knew Fred would not leave it like that," he said.
He went on "I went into the bedroom. I could see blood and got more worried.
"I went into the front room and saw Fred. All I could see was his head. It was like big bubbling jelly and there was blood everywhere. I tried to speak to him. I went up to him and shook him. I was rocking him saying: 'Fred, Fred, Fred.' I was feeling sick. I have never seen something like that before, it was horrific."
He claimed he thought he had disturbed the killer and he said he touched a hammer near to Fred's body.
Clairmonte told the jury he took it away with him because he had received two police cautions in the past and didn't want it to look as if the crime was down to him.
It the witness box he admitted that during June of last he had twice broken into his own father's home.
Throughout the tria,l the prosecution maintained Mr Hodsdon was killed for his PIN number by Clairmonte, who was desperate for cash.
Stuart Trimmer QC said: "What the Crown say is that Frederick Hodsdon was killed for his money and this defendant was very short of money that day."
Mr Trimmer said the victim's house had been ransacked, with drawers pulled out and emptied on the floor. His blood was found on the floor, a radiator, a door frame and a wall.
The prosecutor said that the evidence pointed to the defendant walking his victim around the house and attacking him.
The jury heard Clairmonte's thumb and finger print were found on the shaft of the hammer and traces of his DNA were discovered on the tape used to bind the pensioner's hands.
Small traces of airborne droplets of blood from the victim were also discovered on Clairmonte's clothes.
Clairmonte, who has suffered from Crohn's disease since he was 13, had been in and out of work during 2011.
He was a drug user and suffered bouts of depression. He had in the past resorted to self harm. He had to be regularly helped out of debt by members of his family.
Clairmonte would often talk about committing burglaries to his girlfriend and was known to sell gold to places like Cash Converters or 'Cash for Gold.'
The prosecutor said that his girlfriend was aware of him bringing what she believed were the proceeds of burglaries into the flat and, prior to the murder, he had sold around £2,000 worth of gold items.
Mr Trimmer said that in the days leading up to the murder, Mr Clairmonte had, on three occasions, tried without luck to obtain a £490 'Wonga loan' which he described as a "high interest, short term pay day loan."
Sentencing Clairmonte, Judge Foster said that after attending the Luton and Dunstable Hospital earlier in the day with his aunt who was concerned about him, he had then "disappeared".
The judge said instead of taking up the offer of help he had gone to look at mountain bikes in a cycle shop.
He had then visited his local library to use a computer and apply for a short term "Wonga Loan" without success.
The judge said from carrying out work at the pensioner's home in 2008, Clairemont knew him to be "vulnerable."
"The attack began in the garage and continued in the bungalow and culminated in a vicious attack on him with a hammer with his hands bound behind his back whilst he was on the sofa."
The judge said he accepted that when Clairmonte went to the house he hadn't planned to kill Mr Hodsdon.
But he said by the time he came to inflict the wounds "You must have intended to kill him."