Schizophrenic triple killer sues police for not stopping him sooner

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell killed three elderly men
Alexander Lewis-Ranwell killed three elderly men - Facebook

A paranoid schizophrenic who killed three elderly men has been allowed to mount a legal challenge against police and health authorities, claiming they should have stopped him sooner.

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell, 32, launched a “whirlwind of destruction” on Feb 10 2019, battering Tony Payne, 80, with a hammer and bludgeoning twins Dick and Roger Carter, 84, with a spade, at their homes in Exeter.

The former public schoolboy, from Croyde in north Devon, was later found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity following a trial in December. He was detained indefinitely at the high-security Broadmoor Hospital.

Psychiatrists at Exeter Crown Court said he had been suffering from delusions that led him to wrongly believe he was uncovering a paedophile ring.

It later emerged that Lewis-Ranwell had been arrested and released twice by police over violent and bizarre incidents two days before the killings.

On Feb 8 he was detained on suspicion of burglary at a farm. His mother told police she was gravely concerned about his well-being, but he was released the following morning.

He went on to attack John Ellis, 82, with a saw at his farm and was taken to Barnstaple Police Station, but he was released at 9.30am the next day.

He then immediately travelled to Exeter by taxi where he killed the three men.

Police arrested him for a third time a day after the killings following an incident at a hotel in Exeter, where he attacked night manager Stasys Belevicius.

A CCTV still of Lewis-Ranwell being released from Barnstaple Police Station hours before killing three men
A CCTV still of Lewis-Ranwell being released from Barnstaple Police Station hours before killing three men - CPS/PA

‘No moral culpability’

Lewis-Ranwell sued G4S Health Services (UK), Devon and Cornwall Police, Devon Partnership NHS Trust and Devon County Council for negligence, claiming he should have not been released from custody in the run-up to the killings.

His legal representatives told the Court of Appeal on Tuesday: “It should have been obvious to all concerned during both detentions that if he were released there was a real risk that he would injure other people, and that the necessary steps should have been taken to keep him in detention until it was safe for him to be released.”

His claim includes allegations of “inadequate provision” of mental health services in police custody from Feb 8-10 2019.

G4S, the health trust, and the council previously brought failed legal bids to have part of Lewis-Ranwell’s civil compensation claims against them thrown out.

In a majority ruling, senior judges said Lewis-Ranwell’s legal challenge against the organisations could continue.

Lord Justice Underhill and Dame Victoria Sharp said: “The considered view of right-thinking people would be that someone who was indeed insane should not be debarred from compensation for the consequences of their doing an unlawful act which they did not know was wrong and for which they therefore had no moral culpability.”

Lady Justice Andrews, also sitting, said she would have allowed the appeal.