`He picked up a machete and set out to maim the children'

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On 8 July this year Horrett Campbell donned a pork-pie hat pierced with three-inch screws and with Iron Cross medals drawn on either side, picked up a machete inscribed with the words "You filthy devils" and "666 Marks the Devil" and set out to maim the three- and four-year-olds he could see playing below the window of his council flat at St Luke's infants' school, in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton.

A witness told the trial which ended yesterday that Campbell strode through the playground brandishing the 2ft machete as if cutting corn. The group of 18 children and mothers, who had been enjoying a teddy bears' picnic, scattered. The paranoid schizophrenic later surveyed the chaos from his flat.

A unanimous six-man, six- woman jury at Stafford Crown Court took less than three hours to find Campbell, 33, guilty of attempting to murder three children and four women when he attacked them.

The judge, Mr Justice Sedley, ordered Campbell to be detained at Ashworth mental hospital, Liverpool, for 12 weeks under an interim hospital order:"Unless this is a case in which I am caused to send you to a mental hospital under the Mental Health Act, I shall certainly be passing a sentence of life imprisonment on you."

The judge told the jury he would recommend a bravery award for Lisa Potts, the nursery nurse at the school, who shielded many of her young pupils despite suffering the worst injuries in the attack. "You may be thinking that Lisa Potts deserves more formal recognition. I think so too. I shall be talking what steps I can to ensure that is considered."

Miss Potts, 21, still undergoing therapy for severed hand tendons she suffered, grabbed children from the reach of Campbell or hid them beneath her skirts, bearing the brunt of his brutal blows herself.

The nursery nurses's courage was also by Mr Richard Wakerley QC, prosecuting. "You may well feel astonished by the courage of that young girl, as she could so easily have shut that door, gone further inside to find help. She completely, you may think, disregarded her own safety. But for her action this tragedy could have been so much worse."

Miss Potts, who also suffered deep stab wounds to her back and a broken arm, said she was overwhelmed by the support and good wishes she received. "I don't feel brave," she added. "I don't think I'm an angel - I was just doing my job. I was just protecting the children. It was the right thing to do. I don't think I'm special."

In a recent interview, Miss Potts told how she was coming to terms with Campbell's savagery. "It has been pretty hard for me. Some days I am up in the air, but other days I am pretty laid down. Sometimes, particularly when I stand up in front of a lot of people, because it's such a happy occasion I think of someone coming in and killing me, because the day the attack happened was happy. But I went into school recently and one child said, `We've missed you, Miss Potts' - and that's what it's all about."

Campbell, when arrested and asked why he had stopped his attack, replied: "It was enough. I wanted to get even and hurt them." In a police interview he said he felt an affinity with Thomas Hamilton (who committed the Dunblane massacre) because he too had been outcast by society.