Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 14:43 UK

Hammer attack father-to-be jailed


Simon Morris attacked Nerys Price with a hammer as she slept

An ex-nightclub bouncer has been jailed for 25 years for trying to murder his heavily pregnant partner and attempting to destroy their unborn baby.

Simon Morris, 37, had been having an affair and would have inherited money from Nerys Price's will, Mold Crown Court was told.

The prosecution said he had made the attack look like burglary gone wrong.

He denied trying to kill Ms Price, also 37, as she slept beside him at their home in Prestatyn, Denbighshire.

Jailing Morris for 25 years for the attempted murder and a further 25 years for the attempted destruction of his daughter, to be served concurrently, Judge Merfyn Hughes QC said he had committed a "shocking" crime.

"The jury have convicted you on the basis of compelling evidence," he said.

"To have tried to kill your partner within just a few weeks of her giving birth is, in my opinion, quite a shocking and aggravating feature.

"It was a wicked and callous attempt to rid yourself of a partner who was willing to have your child and who had done nothing but give you love and affection."

The trial heard Morris hit Ms Price twice on the head with the sharp end of a bricklayer's hammer when she was 38 weeks pregnant with his child.

Prosecutor Patrick Harrington QC said Morris then made it look as if an intruder had been responsible, but a random burglar would have nothing to gain and everything to lose from attacking a heavily pregnant woman.

Simon Morris and Nerys Price
Nerys Price was 38 weeks pregnant when Simon Morris attacked her

When Ms Price woke up she asked Morris to call the police but remembered seeing sevens and nines on his phone as he tried to to dial 999, she told the jury.

"It appeared that he was trying to ring the police but was clearly missing the numbers," she said.

Skull fractures

After contacting the emergency services herself, she was taken to hospital where she later gave birth by emergency caesarean section to her daughter Freya. She was treated for two skull fractures and underwent emergency surgery.

Both have since made a full recovery.

Ms Price, who now lives in Ruthin, Denbighshire, also told the court how, on her release from hospital, she began having doubts about Morris's "peculiar behaviour".

He was arrested eight days after the attack on 23 August, 2008.

In the run-up to the attack he was "the driving force" behind the couple changing their wills, the court heard.

Ms Price's death would have initially made him the sole beneficiary of £145,000 from her "death in service" insurance policy, and in total he would have landed hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Simon Morris
Nerys Price thought he was her loving, doting boyfriend and father of her unborn child
Patrick Harrington QC

Mr Harrington said Morris had also begun a new relationship with another woman, Kate Christian, a mother-of-two, of Tremeirchion, Denbighshire.

The prosecutor told the court Morris had met Ms Christian at a bar in St Asaph, several months before the attack and was planning to use the money he inherited to start a new life with her.

"Nerys Price thought he was her loving, doting boyfriend and father of her unborn child," said Mr Harrington. "For his own wicked reasons he had determined to kill her."

Bowed head

Morris admitted betraying Ms Price but said it did not make him capable of wanting to kill her and their unborn child.

His barrister Nick Johnson QC told the court Morris's "greatest sin" was the fact he deceived Ms Price, and said it had made him an "easy target" for police.

The defence said a possible explanation for the break-in was intruders wanted the keys to Morris's £16,000 American Chevrolet Corvette.

After the case, Morris's family said they would fight to clear his name, attacked the police investigation and claimed the real culprit was free.

We stand by him and stand by his innocence... he has been set up
Jonathon Morris, brother of Simon Morris

"For Simon, obviously, we stand by him and stand by his innocence. He has been set up," said his brother Jonathon.

"The real offender should have been here today and found guilty, not Simon."

His father David Morris said Morris had been excited at the impending birth of the baby and would never have done anything to harm Ms Price.

He had originally been tried in May, but the jury failed to reach a verdict and a retrial was ordered.

This second trial ended with a jury of eight men and four women finding him guilty.

Morris bowed his head as the jury returned unanimous verdicts following almost six hours of deliberations. He looked to the floor, shaking his head, as he was sent down.

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