A Gnowangerup man who used a hammer in an unprovoked attack on a stranger at a roadhouse in October has been sentenced to a year in prison. Dramatic CCTV footage of the incident, which left the victim with a hand injury requiring stitches, was shown in Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday. Taj Christopher Ward, 22, appeared via video link from Albany Regional Prison and pleaded guilty to one charge of endangering the life, health or safety of a person. Police prosecutor Sgt Mike Russell said about 5pm on October 9, the victim and his girlfriend were waiting for a food order inside the Gnowangerup Roadhouse. CCTV footage of the incident showed Ward parking his car, running inside armed with a hammer, and attacking the victim. He punched the victim’s head and held him in a headlock. The victim’s girlfriend and several bystanders in the roadhouse immediately rushed to the victim’s aid, managing to separate the men after about a minute. The victim was taken to Gnowangerup District Hospital. Sgt Russell said Ward and the victim were unknown to each other. Legal Aid duty lawyer Graeme Payne said the attack stemmed from an ongoing conflict between Ward’s family and another family in the town. He told the court about a week before the attack, Ward had heard members of the other family were going to attack him. Ward said the victim at the roadhouse was a relative of the person he thought would attack him. “He felt as though he had to do something as a means to protect himself,” Mr Payne said. He said Ward had ongoing mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed as being at the level usually seen in returned veterans, and had seen violence between the families throughout his life. Sgt Russell and told the court “nothing” in Ward’s criminal history indicated he was “making any changes whatsoever”. Ward had been subject to a 10-month jail sentence in 2019 for a series of aggravated assaults and, while in custody, assaulted a prison officer. “Anyone who conducts themselves in that manner should and ought to be in prison,” Sgt Russell said. Magistrate Dianne Scaddan described the attack as a “sobering incident” and said it was only down to “good luck” no one involved sustained serious injury. “The possibility of serious harm or worse was extremely high,” Ms Scaddan said. “Probably no words can describe the seriousness. “The CCTV footage really does speak for itself.” She sentenced Ward to an immediate 12-month prison term, backdated to October 15. He was made eligible for parole.