Man with machete `planned a Dunblane'

Copy-cat elements in nursery attack, jury told
Click to follow
A man's machete attack on infants having a teddy bears' picnic had "copy-cat" elements in common with Thomas Hamilton's murders at Dunblane, a court heard yesterday.

Three children, aged between three and four, and four adults were injured in Horrett Campbell's rampage at St Luke's Church of England infants school in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, on 8 July.

Campbell, 33, of Villiers House, a tower block overlooking the playground of the school, pleads not guilty to seven charges of attempted murder. He has admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent and one charge of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.

Richard Wakerley QC, for the prosecution, told Stafford Crown Court that police found two newspaper cuttings attached to the wall in his flat, one about Michael Bryant, who killed 35 people in Tasmania, and the other about Hamilton. His attack had other similarities with theirs.

Those injured by Campbell were Ahmed Malek, three, Rhena Kaur-Chopra and Fran- cesca Quintyne-Peart, both four, Rhena's mother Surinder Chopra, Azra Rafiq, Wendy Willington, all 29, and Lisa Potts, 21, a teacher.

Mr Wakerley said a class of 20 children was in a grass area at the side of the school having a teddy bears' picnic that afternoon.

Campbell left his flat carrying a light bag which held a machete, a large knife and a washing-up liquid bottle containing petrol. There were two bars with sponges attached which could be used, he said, as "a sort of fire-bomb".

He went up to Azra Rafiq and Surinder Kaur, and struck them on the head from behind.

He then ran towards another mother, Wendy Willington, waiting with her young child. Mrs Willington threw herself on the ground, covering her child. Campbell struck her on the head, causing serious injuries.

Miss Potts began shepherding the children into the school. Campbell went towards her, striking out at Ahmed Malik, leaving him with deep lacerations to the arm and to the head. His skull was fractured.

Campbell then struck out at Rhena Kaur-Chopra, daughter of Ms Kaur, slicing her across the side of her face.

Miss Potts was still bringing children inside. Mr Wakerley said to the jury: "You may well be astonished by the courage of that young girl as she could so easily have shut that door, gone further inside to find help, gone to her headmistress."

Mr Wakerley continued: "She then realised young children were still outside with this man waving the machete and she went out again. She completely, you may think, disregarded her own safety.

"But for her action this tragedy could have been so much worse. She went back outside the school as the children clung to her. She pushed some of them back inside and gathered others up in her arms."

But Campbell approached and struck her with his machete on her head, back and arms. Mr Wakerley added: "Notwithstanding that, she continued to drag the other little children back to school into the doorway and pulled it hard to close it."

Campbell struck out at Francesca Quintyne-Peart with his machete. Her jaw was fractured and part of her ear cut off.

He returned to his flat, lighting two small fires in the tower block as a diversion. He remained hidden in the block until the next day, when he was arrested.

Mr Wakerley said that the jury might decide he was mentally unbalanced during the attack.

He added: "But we suggest that the true question is not why he did it, but in striking these people did he intend to kill them? If that intent was to kill, then it is attempted murder."

In police interviews Campbell described how he had thought about the attack for up to a month before.

Mr Wakerley added: "He thought that the school had turned against him because young children had jeered at him when he walked past.

"He told the police that he thought both Hamilton and Bryant had been misunderstood by society... They had been driven to do what they did, namely indiscriminately kill others, just as he had been driven to do what he did. There are elements of copy-cat here, are there not?"

The trial continues.