Man who worked on Nightingale Hospital denies attempting to murder his mum

Nightingale Hospital, ExCeL

James Wells worked on the Nightingale Hospital site before it officially opened - Credit: PA

A project manager working on the Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL attempted to murder his mother and stepfather, a court has heard.

James Wells, 43, of Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, is accused of attacking Linda Holford and her husband Adrian Holford at their home on March 30 last year.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Mr Wells had become stressed at work and was driven to the couple's home in Wiltshire, by a colleague. He allegedly bludgeoned the couple - in their 70s - hours after arriving.

He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of attempted murder.

Ray Tully, prosecuting, told jurors it was accepted that a "vicious attack" was carried out by Mr Wells that resulted in life-threatening injuries, particularly to his mother.

"The real issue in the case is going to relate to the mental state of Mr Wells at the time that he carried out that attack," Mr Tully said. "Nobody in this case is going to suggest that prior to these events he was anything other than a hardworking family man."

The court heard that Mr Wells had worked on projects across the world, including the Beijing Olympics, before starting a role handling catering at the Nightingale Hospital in Custom House.

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Colleagues thought he seemed well on March 27, when he returned home to his wife and two children for the weekend, but he sent emails the following morning that seemed "agitated and fraught", Mr Tully said.

Workmates raised concerns on March 29, when he was back at work, as he seemed "stressed" and it was agreed that he would speak to someone about his wellbeing.

On March 30, he was in an "emotional state" at work and seemed "upset about work-related matters and stressed about them", Mr Tully told jurors.

Mr Wells was "clearly distressed and emotional" when he spoke to an occupational health nurse, saying he had not slept for four days and he believed he was having a breakdown. It was agreed that Mr Wells would be taken to his mother and stepfather's home to get some "respite" and a colleague drove him there, Mr Tully said.

The court heard that Mr Wells arrived at the property at about 4pm and went for a walk with his mother, ate dinner with the couple and then went to bed before re-emerging with a case.
"They asked him what he was doing," Mr Tully said.

"Adrian Holford says that following that he went absolutely berserk. James was to grab Linda by the throat and push her to the floor. He tried to strangle her. There was kicking, headbutting and punching of her. He picked up the poker and ash pan and she was struck with them.

"The defendant then grabbed a pewter tankard and that too was used as a weapon. Adrian tried to intervene and he was headbutted. He was also struck about the head with the tankard."

Mr Holford called 999 while Mr Wells was in the shower, the court heard. He said that at one stage, he overheard Mr Wells say: "I want to murder Mum."

Police and paramedics attended a short time later, at around 7.50pm, and a Taser was used on Mr Wells who was then arrested and taken into custody.

Mrs Holford spent a month in hospitals receiving treatment for injuries.

Mr Wells also denies assaulting a police officer who he is alleged to have spat on while being placed in the back of a police car following hospital treatment for minor injuries.

He denies the three charges against him and the trial continues.