David DePape, who bludgeoned Nancy Pelosi’s husband, sentenced to 30 years

<span>The Pelosi home in San Francisco, California, on 28 October 2022.</span><span>Photograph: Arthur Dong/EPA</span>
The Pelosi home in San Francisco, California, on 28 October 2022.Photograph: Arthur Dong/EPA

David DePape, a rightwing conspiracy theorist who broke into Nancy Pelosi’s northern California home in 2022 and bludgeoned her husband with a hammer, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

A federal jury convicted him of attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official in November 2023, just over a year after the attack in the former House speaker’s San Francisco home.

DePape broke in through the back door in the early hours of 28 October 2022 with plans to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, interrogate her and post footage online. Instead, he found Paul Pelosi, who was 82 at the time and awoke to DePape in his bedroom with a hammer and zip ties, asking: “Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?”

Paul Pelosi was able to call 911, and police officers arrived just before DePape struck him in the head multiple times with a hammer, knocking him unconscious. Pelosi required surgery for a skull fracture as well as injuries to his arm and hands after the attack, which was captured in police body-camera footage.

The attack, which took place days before the 2022 midterm elections, fueled fears over political violence in the US.

“The Pelosi family couldn’t be prouder of their Pop and his tremendous courage in saving his own life on the night of the attack and in testifying in this case,” Aaron Bennett, a spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi, said in a statement. “Speaker Pelosi and her family are immensely grateful to all who have sent love and prayers over the last eighteen months, as Mr Pelosi continues his recovery.”

DePape had a history of promoting conspiracy theories online and had shared misinformation about Covid and the January 6 insurrection, as well as false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen from Donald Trump. He had been unhoused and experiencing drug abuse and mental illness in the years leading up to the attack, his ex-girlfriend told local media.

During the trial, he testified about his fringe political beliefs and how he came to support false conspiracy theories that a cabal of pedophiles controlled the US government.

He admitted to the attack, but said he had wanted to talk to Nancy Pelosi and that Paul Pelosi was “never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt”. His attorney said DePape had targeted Nancy Pelosi because he believed “with every ounce of his body” that he was taking action to stop corruption and the abuse of children.

Paul Pelosi last year testified that he had still not fully recovered from the “traumatic attack”, which required permanent plates and screws in his head.