A SHOP assistant who was smashed over the head with a claw hammer during a robbery was saved from serious injury by his long dreadlocked hair.
Masked intruder Patrick Grady repeatedly hit victim Rafal Secham with the hammer but the full force of the blows was cushioned by the hair which the cashier wore in a four inch thick bun.
He was still knocked senseless and suffered a cut to his scalp and a bruise the size of a tennis ball that needed hospital treatment and left him unable to work for weeks.
Grady went into the Ellacombe News store in Torquay while wearing a hoodie and a mask and accompanied by sidekick Kierran Fairey, from Newton Abbot, who carried a crowbar.
The pair fled with bottles of vodka after Grady went straight up to Mr Secham and attacked him with the hammer without any warning, knocking him to the ground. Both men demanded that he open the till but he was too badly injured to do so.
A Judge told Grady that he could be facing a murder charge but for the protection which Mr Secham’s hair gave him from the hammer blows.
The entire incident was caught on CCTV which was played as the two robbers were jailed at Exeter Crown Court. The shocking footage also circulated on social media after the attack.
Grady, aged 33, of Corfe Avenue, Torquay, admitted two robberies and Fairey, aged 31, of Forde Close, Newton Abbot, admitted robbery and possession of a crowbar as an offensive weapon.
Grady was jailed for six years and eight months with a two year extended licence and Fairey was jailed for two years and eight months by Judge Anna Richardson.
She told Grady: 'The CCTV showed you repeatedly striking Mr Secham’s head with a hammer. He fortunately had long dreadlocked hair rolled up in a bun.
'I have seen photographs of the injuries to the back of his head.
'I you imagine what the impact would have been if he had not got four inches of hair to cushion the blows. You might be sitting there charged with murder.'
Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Grady was already on a community order with an alcohol monitoring tag when he carried out the first robbery at a convenience store at lunchtime on Sunday January 21.
He was so drunk that he was not allowed to buy more alcohol and responded by going behind the counter, punching the cashier to the floor and helping himself to two bottles of vodka.
The hammer raid took place at 9.40pm on April 11 and left Mr Secham needing hospital treatment for a cut on his head.
A victim impact statement said he could no longer face working in a shop and lost five weeks work before finding another job.
Miss Evie Dean, for Grady, said he had stayed out of trouble for six years but relapsed into alcohol abuse after his partner suffered two miscarriages.
He is now part of an Alcoholics Anonymous group in prison.
Mr Paul Dentith, for Fairey, said he played a much smaller part in the second robbery and had not used the crowbar or got involved in the violence.
He is a family man who is missing his children.