Nephew Jailed For Attempted Murder

Birmingham Crown Court

A Birmingham man, who attempted to murder his aunt in a hotel room and pass her death off as a suicide, has been jailed for at least eight years.

James Duut, 32, scattered pills around the apparently lifeless body of Patricia McDonnell after trying to strangle her to cover up the theft of £10,000 from her bank account.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that Duut siphoned off a further £3,400 from the victim’s account in the hours after leaving her for dead at Sutton Coldfield’s Ramada Hotel.

Miss McDonnell, 62, suffered extensive bruising and a broken tooth at the hands of her nephew, who had tried to knock her out by giving her tea laced with a cold remedy.

Prosecutor David Jackson told the court that Duut – who researched methods of suicide on the internet while planning the offence – was arrested a day after attacking his aunt on December 11 last year.

Police inquiries established that the would-be killer, who was up to £60,000 in debt, spent around £2,000 at Bicester Village in Oxfordshire and had checked into an upmarket Birmingham hotel in the immediate aftermath of the offence.

It also emerged that the defendant, who was arrested in the early hours of December 12, had paid £144 for a round of cocktails during his spending spree.

His aunt, who was staying at the Ramada following a fire at her home, raised the alarm with hotel staff after coming to in her bathroom at around 2.20pm.

Duut, of Mere Road, Erdington, Birmingham, initially denied the offence in interview but pleaded guilty to attempted murder at an earlier hearing.

Passing an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection, Judge Paul Farrer QC ruled that Duut must serve at least eight years before he can be considered for parole.

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