Man jailed for terrifying attack on his grandmother

Christopher Sanderson
Christopher Sanderson

A Whitby man who strangled and smothered his own grandmother with a pillow has been locked up for nearly three years.

Christopher Sanderson, 31, barged into the 73-year-old’s bedroom as she tried to lock the door, sending her sprawling backwards.

He then launched a sustained and sadistic attack on the terrified pensioner, who was pinned down on the bed, slapped around the face, strangled and smothered with a pillow until she could barely breathe, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Graham O’Sullivan said the lady thought her grandson was trying to kill her and momentarily lost consciousness

He said the kindly gran had allowed Sanderson to stay at her home in the town following his release from prison after serving a sentence for carrying a knife. She was effectively a carer for Sanderson who had been suffering from mental-health problems, namely drug-induced delusions.

Although Sanderson was “seemingly in a good mood” on the night he launched his terrifying attack, he had been displaying “worrying” behaviour in the preceding few months and his grandmother had taken to locking her bedroom door because she was so concerned about his state of mind.

“He was talking about being followed and convinced the house was haunted,” said Mr O’Sullivan. “There were numerous arguments between them.”

At about 1am on February 28, the grandma was watching TV in her bedroom when Sanderson knocked on her door and “asked if they could have a chat”.

“As she was locking the door, he barged in, causing her to stumble backwards,” added the barrister.

“He was shouting and screaming in her face. She fell (onto) the bed and on her knees. As she was trying to move away from him, he was smacking and hitting the sides of her face and head. She tried to cover her face (from the) slaps.”

The petrified gran thought she was going to die when Sanderson then tried to tie what appeared to be a piece of clothing around her neck. He then pinned her down with his leg while strangling her.

“He was squeezing extremely hard and she began to panic,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“She blacked out and believed he was trying to kill her. He grabbed a pillow and smothered her around the head. He shoved her head (face-down) into the bed, so hard and deep that the pillow wrapped around the back of her head. He was using (the pillow) to pin her down.

“She was struggling to breathe and fearful for her life. He then suddenly stopped and walked out of the room.”

The old lady called police, but before they arrived, her crazed grandson knocked on her door again, shouting: “Why are you acting like this, gran?’ You’re scaring me.”

Police arrived and arrested Sanderson, who was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after officers found his grandmother with injuries including cuts and bruises.

“She feels it’s almost impossible to trust him again and that the incident has had a huge impact on her and her family,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“She says she doesn’t want anything to do with him until he gets help.”

Sanderson, of no fixed abode, appeared for sentence on Tuesday after admitting ABH.

The court heard he had 13 previous convictions for offences including battery, affray, ABH, witness intimidation and public disorder. He was jailed for 12 months in April last year following his second conviction for carrying a bladed weapon. He was released from jail in September 2017 and was on prison licence when he launched the shocking attack on his grandmother.

Defence barrister John Batchelor said Sanderson could barely remember the incident due to his mental state and was “mortified” that the relationship with his grandmother was over.

Jailing Sanderson for 32 months, Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said the troubled father-of-one was “plainly dangerous”.

He told Sanderson: “Your victim was your greatest supporter, your own grandmother, who provided you with a place to live when you were released from prison, (but) you started taking drugs which had an alarming reaction on your behaviour.”

Mr Stubbs also made a five-year restraining order banning Sanderson from entering his grandmother’s street.