Darryl Trevor St Clair sentenced to four years in prison for hammer attack in South Plympton

A man who “turned the world upside down” by the elderly pensioner he attacked with a hammer before stealing his car in a “cowardly and horrific” assault could be released from prison in less than three years.

Darryl Trevor St Clair had just been released from hospital and was on methamphetamine when he knocked a rock on the door of an estate in Ascot Park in October 2021.

St Clair asked Warren Phillips, who had lived in the house for 70 years, to drive him to Marion Road because he was “afraid that people would follow him”.

Mr Phillips consented “in an act of Good Samaritanism”, but St Clair turned violent on the drive and threatened Mr Phillips with a hammer.

It caused Mr Phillips to crash into a parked taxi in South Plympton in south Adelaide.

St Clair then got out of the car and attacked Mr Phillips with the hammer, causing cuts, scrapes and bruises to his hands, face, head and ribs.

St Clair then stole the car keys and drove off.

Judge Joana Fuller said St Clair’s attack was “cowardly” and “abominable”.ABC news

The 39-year-old was arrested after the media published CCTV footage of the incident and his own uncle recognized him and turned him in to police.

He pleaded guilty to theft with violence.

District Judge Joana Fuller sentenced St Clair to four years and 10 months in prison because the crime had “a debilitating effect” on Mr Phillips.

“The images of your behavior are disturbing to watch and must have been terrifying to experience,” she said during the sentencing.

“Your attack on an elderly man who tried to help you was cowardly and horrific.

“After throwing him on the ground, you left him there and stole one of his most important possessions that he never got back thanks to you and which he can’t replace now.”

Judge Fuller said Mr Phillip’s car, which was never found, was uninsured and held “key to his independence and ability to move around the community”.

She said that at the time, St. Clair’s mental state was “disturbed by drug use”, leading him to trick and attack his victim.

“Obviously when you take drugs you are a danger to the community,” Judge Fuller said.

“It is a sad indictment of our society that there seems to be no end or limit to the devastation wrought by drug use and abuse.

“It has ruined your life and it has turned an older man’s world upside down.”

Stuart Road in South Plympton in the suburbs of Adelaide.
Stuart Road in South Plympton, where Warren Phillips was attacked.ABC News: Mahalia Carter

Judge Fuller said St Clair had committed numerous offenses in the past, including causing harm through dangerous driving, assault, theft and illegal use and breaches of bail.

“This is by far your worst offense yet,” she said.

The court heard that St Clair had been released from prison on a public holiday for the crime and that he had no money and no way to get home. He was also told that he had had an anxiety attack that triggered the drug use.

St Clair will be eligible for parole in just under three years.

Outside the court, St Clair’s lawyer, Tim McGrath, said he found the verdict “reasonable”.

“Unfortunately, the tragedy that befell Mr Phillips will last much longer than that sentence.

“He regrets his actions. He is very sorry. He deeply regrets it.”

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