Violent offender wielded claw hammer when taking two women hostage at South Yorkshire hostel

A violent South Yorkshire man wielded a claw hammer when he took two women hostage in a terrifying ordeal at his bail hostel after learning he was being recalled to prison, Sheffield Crown Court has heard.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 3:10 pm

John Shellard brandished the weapon outside Rookwood Approved Premises, in Rotherham, on December 12, last year and shouted: "Get the f****** door open or I will smash your skull in."

Prosecutor Graham O'Sullivan described how Shellard pushed his way into the building on Doncaster Road, and forced a probation officer and a residential worker into an office where he threatened them for money.

Shallard smashed a perspex screen with the hammer and ordered the women remove their security belts.

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Another resident armed himself with a pool cue but the women gestured for him to leave, and he did so, hitting the panic button and calling police from his room.

Shellard forced them into another office and ordered one of them to open the safe. He took £250 in cash and began damaging drawers in the search for more, refusing to let one of the woman go to the toilet or sit down.

Shellard confiscated a set of car keys, more money and their mobile phones from their bags, then smashed CCTV screens.

When he announced one of the women was going to drive him to Scarborough, where he is from, she started crying.

Shellard warned them: “If you call the police I will f****** kill you,” waved his hammer at another resident and ordered him to take his bags to the car.

But as he left the hostel two police officers arrived and chased him to nearby Clifton Park, where he was caught as he climbed a fence.

Shallard tried to headbutt a third officer as he was being arrested, causing a minor injury, Mr O’Sulivan told Sheffield Crown Court, on Thursday.

In a statement, the probation officer said: “It made me fear for my life. I felt he would use (the hammer) against me.”

The other woman said she suffered flashbacks and her mind is still “haunted by his anger and aggression.”

The court heard Shellard has 31 previous convictions for 61 offences. He was jailed for five years in 2014 for robbery and wounding, and in August 2019 for serious assault and escaping from custody.

“It could easily have been more serious if the police hadn't arrived,” he added.

Matthew Burdon, mitigating, said Shellard served his first prison sentence as a 14-year-old.

He relapsed into drug and alcohol abuse to cope with the mental health difficulties which had previously led to suicide attempts, he said.

“His ambition is to live a normal life and put his offending behaviour behind him,” he said. “He is full of remorse. He has written letters of apology to his victims. He knew these two ladies and they had been helpful towards him. He simply can't explain what came over him.”

He said Shellard was high on booze and valium at the time and "knows a lengthy prison sentence will follow."

Shellard, 30, pleaded guilty to affray, kidnapping, criminal damage, possession of an offensive weapon and assaulting an emergency worker, on January 28.

On Thursday, Recorder David Gordon adjourned sentencing until March 11, so probation officers can assess how dangerous Shellard is.

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