Paranoid schizophrenic not guilty of murdering three pensioners

A paranoid schizophrenic who killed three pensioners hours after being released from police custody has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell was gripped by delusions about saving young girls from a paedophile ring, Exeter Crown Court heard.

The 28-year-old battered Anthony Payne to death with a hammer at the 80-year-old's home in the St David's area of Exeter on 10 February.

He later scaled the wall of 84-year-old twins Dick and Roger Carter, who lived a mile and a half away in Cowick Lane, before bludgeoning them to death with a shovel.

Before returning its verdict, the jury gave a note to the judge raising concerns about the "state of psychiatric services in the county of Devon and the failings in care in Alexander Lewis-Ranwell's case".


Lewis-Ranwell had been arrested twice in the days before the "whirlwind of destruction" that led to the pensioners' deaths, the court heard.

Just hours before killing Mr Payne with a hammer in an upstairs bedroom of his terrace home, Lewis-Ranwell had been released from police custody after attacking farmer John Ellis, 82, with a saw.

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This was his second arrest in the space of 24 hours and occurred just seven hours after he had been held for attempted burglary at another farm.

Image: Lewis-Ranwell can be seen on CCTV on the day he carried out the killings

His mother Jill Lewis-Ranwell had phoned police expressing "grave concerns should he be released" after the first arrest, the court heard.

Members of the public had also reported Lewis-Ranwell's worrying behaviour to the police in the hours around the killings.

Shop staff had noticed him "rambling about random things", while a taxi driver who gave him a lift told how he feared for his life because of Lewis-Ranwell's "irrational" behaviour.

He was released from custody at Barnstaple police station at 2.49am on 9 February but returned there seven hours later after attacking Mr Ellis.

A 12-minute call with a mental health practitioner at 3pm identified "potential psychotic symptoms present including paranoid beliefs".

Family members have shared this undated image of Anthony Payne after his death
Image: Family members have shared this undated image of Anthony Payne after his death

An inspector reviewing his detention wrote at 4.11pm that Lewis-Ranwell "potentially presents as a serious risk to the public if released".

A forensic medical examiner, a doctor employed by G4S Health Services, was escorted to Lewis-Ranwell's cell at 6.30pm but deemed he was not "acutely unwell" and a full mental health assessment was not carried out.

Dr Mihal Pichui told jurors he left the police station with the "expectation" he would be seen by a mental health nurse the following morning but later found out this did not happen.

Lewis-Ranwell was released from Barnstaple police station at 9.32am and travelled to Exeter before killing Mr Payne and the Carter twins.

He was arrested for a third time a day after the killings when he attacked night manager Stasys Belevicius at an Exeter hotel.

Lewis-Ranwell is seen in a shop on the day he killed three pensioners in February
Image: Lewis-Ranwell is seen in a shop on the day he killed three pensioners in February

Concerns were raised about his mental health while he was in custody and he was transferred to a psychiatric unit for assessment.

He later told a psychiatrist at Broadmoor secure hospital: "I cannot believe no one helped me – they let me out twice when I was unwell."

Lewis-Ranwell also thought the police had "sanctioned his actions" because they had twice released him from custody.

The former scaffolder had been suffering from paRead More – Source