Man killed three pensioners over "deluded belief they were part of a paedophile ring"

21 November 2019, 09:50

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell has denied the three murders
Alexander Lewis-Ranwell has denied the three murders. Picture: Facebook

By Maddie Goodfellow

A man with a history of mental illness has denied murdering three elderly men because he thought they were part of a paedophile ring.

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell battered Anthony Payne, 80, with a hammer before bludgeoning 84-year-old twins Dick and Roger Carter to death with a shovel just three hours later.

The killings took place at two houses in Exeter on February 10 this year.

Randall, who is a paranoid schizophrenic, attacked Mr Payne in the upstairs bedroom of his home in Bonhay Road, Exeter, after sneaking in and following him upstair with a hammer before battering him to death.

Just three hours later, Lewis-Ranwell entered the home of the Carter twins in Cowick Lane, Exeter.

He had been suffering from delusions and believed that the men were part of a paedophile ring that was holding and abusing victims.

Nearby CCTV cameras showed one of the brothers telling the defendant to get out of the property when he tried to enter through the front gates.

The defendant then went around the back of the house and scaled a wall in order to gain entry, the court heard.

Prosecutors said he took a spade from the garden and went into the house to beat the brothers to death with blows to the head.

Exeter Crown Court was told how Lewis-Ranwell had already been arrested just seven hours before for an attempted burglary at a farm.

They also heard that three days before the killings, Lewis-Ranwell went to a nearby farm to steal a drill and bicycle.

That night he was also abusive at a pub and the police were called.

The following day he took a pony from a barn and was arrested by the police.

Lewis-Ranwell, from Croyde, north Devon, denies three charges of murder by reason of insanity.

Anthony Payne was found dead at his Exeter home
Anthony Payne was found dead at his Exeter home. Picture: Family Handout

The court heard how Lewis-Ranwell was released from custody at 9am that morning and was taken to a homeless shelter by police, but left shortly after.

He then went to another farm where he was caught releasing sheep and alpacas from their pens.

When the owner challenged him, Lewis-Ranwell attacked him with a rusty saw and a 4-foot wooden stick.

The defendant was arrested again and taken back to Barnstaple police station where he was held in custody overnight and released on the morning of February 10.

That morning, he headed to Exeter and carried out the three killings.

By 5am the following morning Lewis-Ranwell attacked a fifth person, Hotel night porter Stasys Belevicius, after walking into the reception and demanding to be served breakfast.

The police were called and he was tasered by officers before being taken to a psychiatric unit in Exeter.

He was arrested at the ward and taken into police custody.

The trial is taking place at Exeter Crown Court
The trial is taking place at Exeter Crown Court. Picture: PA

Richard Smith QC, prosecuting, said: "Moments after the first killing, the defendant was back out and walking the streets again."

He continued: "About two and three quarter hours later on the same Sunday afternoon the defendant was by then walking down Cowick Lane in the St Thomas area of the city, about one-and-a-half miles from where the first killing had taken place."

Mr Smith said Lewis-Ranwell had a "long history" of mental illness and had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

"One of the consequences of that condition is it appears this defendant would suffer delusions," he said.

"One delusion it seems this defendant was suffering from was that they were in some way involved in an undercover and established paedophile ring that was holding and abusing victims.

"These victims, he somehow delusionally believed, were involved. They were of course not involved in any such things."

Mr Smith said the Crown did not accept the defendant was at the time of the killings legally insane.

"It is the prosecution case that this defendant does bear some criminal responsibility for what he did," he added.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.