Insane triple killer, 28, is suing NHS and police over care 'failures'

Insane triple killer, 28, is suing NHS and police over care ‘failures’ that he says led him to bludgeon three elderly men to death

  • Alexander Lewis-Ranwell, 28, was found not guilty of three counts of murder after jury found he was insane when he beat three elderly men to death in Exeter
  • Lewis-Ranwell argues he should have been detained under the Mental Health Act after being arrested and taken to custody for previous attacks by the police
  • He is suing Devon and Cornwall Police, Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Devon County Council and G4S Health Care for care failures while he was in custody

Pictured: Alexander Lewis-Ranwell who is currently in Broadmoor Hospital after being handed an indefinite hospital order

A man who killed three people in Exeter while ‘insane’ is suing the NHS and police for damages over alleged failures in his care which he claims led to the deaths.

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell, a paranoid schizophrenic, argues that he should have been detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act before he bludgeoned and beat to death Anthony Payne, Dick Carter and Roger Carter in their homes in 2019.

It is alleged that Devon and Cornwall Police, The Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Devon County Council and G4S Health Care Ltd all failed to ‘ensure adequate provision of medical assessment’ while Lewis-Ranwell was being held at Barnstaple Police Station in the days leading up to the killings.

Lewis-Ranwell stood trial for murder at Exeter Crown Court in November 2019 but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The court heard that he did not know at the time of the killings that what he was doing was wrong.

The jury were told that his state of mind was so disturbed that he wrongly believed the elderly men, who he had never met, were paedophiles.

Prior to returning their verdict, the jury in the trial handed a note to the judge which was read in open court and stated: ‘We the Jury have been concerned at the state of psychiatric health service provision in our county of Devon. Can we be reassured that the failings in care for ALR will be appropriately addressed following this trial?’

The trial was told there were signs of his deteriorating mental state and paranoid behaviour in the days before the killings on February 10 2019.

Lewis-Ranwell is pictured the day before the killings, when he was arrested for attacking a man where a doctor recommended he be assessed for mental health issues, his trial heard

His trial heard 28-year-old Alexander Lewis-Ranwell (pictured left) was under the delusion he was uncovering a paedophile ring when he killed pensioner Anthony Payne, 80 (pictured right)

Police arrested him on February 8 for entering a barn near Ilfracombe.

He was released the next morning, only to be arrested and held again on February 9 for attacking a farmer.

He was released for a second time on February 10 and travelled to Exeter where he killed Mr Payne, 80, in his home on Bonhay Road before walking to Cowick Lane and killing the Carter twins, 84.

The claim for damages relates to assessments of his mental health when in custody and the circumstances that led to him being released into the community before the killings. The defendants all deny liability.

Lawyers for Lewis-Ranwell were back in the same courtroom in Exeter this week to respond to an application by three of the four defendants to strike out Lewis-Ranwell’s claim on the grounds that it would be illegal to proceed with it.

According to lawyers for Lewis-Ranwell: ‘The claim is for common law damages and damages under the Human Rights Act 1998.

The scene in Exeter after the bodies of twins Dick and Roger Carter, aged 84, were discovered

Residents left flowers at the house of the Carter brothers in Cowick lane, Exeter, in 2019

‘The claimant, then a 28-year-old man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, alleges failure by the defendants to ensure adequate provision of medical assessment whilst he was detained at Barnstaple Police Station.

‘Absent those failings, it is averred the nature and degree of his condition (paranoid schizophrenia, relapse with active psychosis posing a risk to himself and others) would have been recognised.

‘He would have been assessed under the Mental Health Act 1983 and compulsorily admitted to hospital for in-patient treatment under section 2 or 3 of the Act. He would have recovered from his relapse and would have been treated as community patient by about six months after these incidents’.

It is claimed that if the proper steps had been taken he would not have been released from police custody February 9 and 10 with untreated psychosis and would not have injured the farmer or killed Mr Payne, Dick Carter or Roger Carter.

Pictured: Officers scour the Carter twins’ house and garden at their home in Exeter

Devon and Cornwall Police have not made an application for the claim to be struck out.

The other three defendants argue that the claim should be struck out for illegality on the grounds of public policy and as the claimant had committed an unlawful act.

Mr Justice Garnham presided over the fact-finding High Court hearing which started on Wednesday [March 11].

He will now be expected to give a judgement on the strike-out application and whether a trial for damages can go ahead. That could take several weeks.

Lewis-Ranwell is currently being detained in Broadmoor. He was given an indefinite hospital order at the end of the criminal trial.

Timeline leading to the arrest of Lewis-Ranwell 

February 7 2019: Lewis-Ranwell goes to Lee Meadow Farm near Ilfracombe where he causes criminal damage, interferes with electrical equipment, lets out animals from their pens and steals a bicycle and a drill.

Midnight: He is verbally abusive to staff at the Castle Inn pub in Combe Martin. The police are called and Lewis-Ranwell agrees to leave. Officers note he has the bicycle and drill in his possession. The police offer him a lift but he refuses.

February 8: In the morning Lewis-Ranwell goes to Twitchen Farm in Combe Martin where the owner, Samantha Bowden, sees him with a pony he has removed from an insecure barn. She sees him acting strangely and calls the police. He is arrested for attempted burglary.

By 9.49am Lewis-Ranwell is at Barnstaple police station where he damages a cell. He tells police he has twice been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He is seen to exhibit ‘bizarre’ behaviour while in custody.

February 9: At 2.55am Lewis-Ranwell arrives at the Sleepsafe project in Barnstaple, which helps homeless people. The police had taken him there after releasing him from custody. He stays there for two-and-a-half hours before leaving. While there he uses Facebook on one of the computers available for clients.

At 8.45am Lewis-Ranwell is at Silver Spring Farm in Barnstaple where farmer Maureen Ellis sees him letting sheep and alpacas out from their pens. She tells her husband John and he confronts Lewis-Ranwell. The defendant attacks Mr Ellis with a rusty saw and a 4ft long stick causing injuries to his arm. Mrs Ellis calls the police and Lewis-Ranwell is arrested.

By 10.06am he is back at Barnstaple police station – just seven hours after previously being released.

Police officers note his behaviour was ‘disturbed and aggressive’ and prior to a strip search he attempts to grab a Pc’s Taser. He is then restrained and forced to the ground and placed in a cell.

While in custody Lewis-Ranwell urinates in three cells and ejaculates. Due to his aggressive behaviour he is interviewed by officers through the cell door. He is seen by forensic medical examiner Dr Mihal Pichui who said he was not ‘acutely unwell’ and a full mental health assessment was not carried out.

February 10: Lewis-Ranwell is released from custody at 9.30am on bail until February 25. At 11am he gets in a taxi and says he wants to go to Haldon Hill, near Exeter. The taxi driver, Johnson Joseph, was ‘clearly worried about the conduct of the defendant in the taxi’ and drops him off at a station in Crediton. Lewis-Ranwell takes a rail replacement bus service to Exeter St David’s station, which is close to where Anthony Payne lived at 65 Bonhay Road.

At 12.30pm Mr Payne is killed. Less than three hours later Dick and Roger Carter are attacked one-and-a-half miles away at their home at 105 Cowick Lane.

CCTV captures Lewis-Ranwell buying crisps and chocolate from a nearby McColls convenience store. That evening he is at two pubs in the Exeter area, the Twisted Oak and The Huntsman.

He sleeps rough in an area close to Exeter Castle.

February 11: At 5am Lewis-Ranwell walks into the Rougemont Hotel in Exeter and demands breakfast. He then attacks night manager Stasys Belevicius. The police are called and Lewis-Ranwell is Tasered before being arrested and taken into custody.

Following concerns for his mental health, Lewis-Ranwell is seen by a police doctor and it is decided he should be detained under the Mental Health Act.

Around the time he is being taken to Juniper Ward psychiatric unit at the Wonford Hospital in Exeter, Keith Baker – Mr Payne’s friend – goes to Bonhay Road having not seen him since February 9 and discovers his body.

February 12: Liz Henderson, a neighbour of the Carter brothers, becomes concerned for their welfare. Her partner discovers the body of Dick Carter in the kitchen.

Police launch a triple murder inquiry after the bodies of the three men are discovered.

At 11.20pm Lewis-Ranwell is arrested at Juniper ward on suspicion of murder after CCTV is recovered close to Mr Payne’s home which identifies him as a suspect. He is taken into police custody.

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