'Delusional' biker killed children's author before dying in 145mph police chase

22 April 2021, 16:22

By Joe Cook

A "delusional" man shot and killed a children's author with a home-made shotgun before dying himself in a "terrifying" 145mph police chase, an inquest has heard.

Alex Sartain used a home-made double-barrelled shotgun to shoot his neighbour James Nash in the front garden of his home in Upper Enham, Hampshire, on 5 August 2020.

The 34-year-old then repeatedly stamped on the head of the 42-year-old parish councillor, causing him fatal head injuries from which he died three days later.

Following his death Mr Nash was described as "such a kind-hearted individual and a proactive Parish Councillor who cared deeply for his community".

Read more: James Nash: Children's author and parish councillor dies after Hampshire shooting

A verdict of unlawful killing was recorded at an inquest into Mr Nash's death on Monday.

James Nash was critically injured during the shooting in Upper Enham.
James Nash was critically injured during the shooting in Upper Enham. Picture: Facebook

After the killing Mr Sartain rode off from the village, leaving his motorcycle leathers, a knuckle duster, the shotgun and a device for disabling horses, at the side of the road.

He reached a top speed of 161mph before dying "instantly" after he clipped an oncoming Fiat 500 at and crashed into a tree, travelling 145mph.

Recording a conclusion that Mr Sartain died as a result of a road traffic collision, the coroner Jason Pegg said: "After what had happened to James Nash that afternoon, it cannot be known what was going through Alex Sartain's mind as to how his day would come to an end.

"This was an accident, I am not satisfied that the collision was a deliberate act."

Armed police were deployed after Alex Sartain killed his neighbour James Nash with a home-made shotgun.
Armed police were deployed after Alex Sartain killed his neighbour James Nash with a home-made shotgun. Picture: Hampshire Police
Police helicopter footage showed Alex Sartain waving to them as he rode along at high speed.
Police helicopter footage showed Alex Sartain waving to them as he rode along at high speed. Picture: Hampshire Police

The coroner's court was told that Mr Sartain, who had mental health issues and took cannabis before killing Mr Nash, was convinced that his neighbour "had something to do with Putin and the spread of Covid".

Mr Sartain believed Mr Nash, who had previously worked as a graphic designer for aerospace business Airbus, had been working in a conspiracy with Boeing and Nasa, the hearing was told.

Mr Sartain's father, John Sartain, told his son's inquest: "Before all the problems, he was a normal happy lad. Drugs and lots of other things changed him until the end, we had the mental issues."

Alex Sartain crashed in a wooded area on the A343 near Hurstbourne Tarrant.
Alex Sartain crashed in a wooded area on the A343 near Hurstbourne Tarrant. Picture: Hampshire Police

The inquest heard that Mr Sartain's mental health problems deteriorated and he was sectioned in September 2019 before he was discharged in April 2020.

His father said: "Alex had it in his head that he had been taken to the mental health place and tortured and everyone was out to get him."

Mr Sartain added that he had attempted to contact mental health services in June 2020 but his son had then shown signs of improvement.

He said: "I didn't think anything like that would happen."

If you are affected by any of the above and need emotional support then contact the Samaritans helpline 24 hours a day on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch or visit their website.