The kids called me nigger. I wanted to hurt them. I didn't feel sorry

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The Independent Online
A man who ran amok with a machete at a nursery school told a jury yesterday that he had believed the children represented the devil and felt no remorse for his victims.

Horrett Campbell, 33, spent two-and-a-half hours in the witness box at Stafford Crown Court explaining that he thought the pupils, aged between three and four, were part of a conspiracy against him.

Mr Campbell, who has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, maintained that children at St Luke's infant school in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, had verbally abused him.

He said: "I walked past the school and the kids would run to the fence and say abusive remarks such as `nigger'. They would just come out with it."

But psychiatrists said the "auditory hallucinations" and conspiracy theories were all classic symptoms of his mental illness which had not been diagnosed before the school attack on 8 July this year.

Wearing a crumpled beige jacket and white, open-necked shirt, Mr Campbell was handed a rolled-up piece of paper and asked to demonstrate the types of blows he had inflicted on his victims, three children and four adults.

Mumbling and stuttering, Mr Campbell swung the paper up to his head and down before moving it across his body in a slashing motion.

He told the court he wanted to attack the children at St Luke's to "get back at them and hurt them". Asked if he intended to kill Mr Campbell replied: "That was not my intention." He said: "I thought the children represented the devil. I had to hit them, they could just be wounded."

Mr Campbell said after the attack he had felt much better and added: "What I did was good. I felt sorry for myself. I didn't really feel sorry for them, no."

Mr Campbell, of Villiers House, a tower block overlooking St Luke's, said he had sat up into the early hours the night before the attack and constructed two home-made flame throwers from metal tubing and foam. His intention was to wet them with petrol from a washing-up liquid bottle full of fuel he carried with him to the attack and throw them "at anything".

Campbell told the court that as he pulled out the machete when he arrived at the school just after 3.10pm he had seen a little girl who said the words: "If he does it, then he does it."

He said: "I took it to mean she knew why I was there. I thought it was going to look funny if I didn't go ahead and do what I had come to do."

A psychiatrist, Dr James Collins, from the high-security Ashworth mental hospital on Merseyside, told the court this was another example of the delusions Mr Campbell was suffering because of his schizophrenia.

Mr Campbell could not recall the exact sequence of the attack but said he had only struck most of his victims one blow as he did not want to kill them. Referring to the multiple blows suffered by a 21-year-old nursery nurse, Lisa Potts, as she tried to shield the 18 children in the group, Mr Campbell said he did not realise he had made contact with her body.

Miss Potts had earlier been watching Mr Campbell give evidence from the public gallery but left, accompanied by a police officer, before he referred to her injuries.

Mr Campbell said his reasons for ending the attack were simply that he thought "That's enough".

He associated himself with the Dunblane killer Thomas Hamilton and had kept his picture on his bedroom wall alongside that of Martin Bryant, who shot dead 35 people in Tasmania.

He said of Hamilton's slaughter: "He felt he was doing to others what they had been doing to him. I felt victimised. I thought Hamilton was victimised."

The court heard Mr Campbell had led the life of a lonely outsider since moving to his sixth-floor flat 13 years ago.

He said he had one half-sister who lived in America and had only ever had two relationships with women, the last in the 1980s. Dr Collins, who has been treating Mr Campbell since November, said: "The diagnosis was of paranoid schizophrenia based on Horrett's past."

He said conspiracy theories and hearing voices were both symptoms of the illness and Mr Campbell had also told him he believed someone was trying to poison him.

But under cross-examination Dr Collins said Mr Campbell's illness did not prevent him from forming an intention - the prosecutions say the intention to kill.

In his closing comments Richard Wakerley QC, for the prosecution, asked: "Was he so mad that he didn't understand the consequences of what he was doing?"

He said Mr Campbell's motive was the same as that of Thomas Hamilton - "To get even."

But Ian Peddie QC, for the defence, told the jury: "He was not in his right mind. He did not know, and still does not, that he was genuinely ill and that he was hearing voices - voices he believed were real.

"He acted as he did because he desperately wanted to stop the tide of abuse and for that reason he went to the school - to inflict hurt, not death."

Mr Campbell denies the attempted murder of three-year-old Ahmed Maleek, classmates Rhena Chopra and Francesca Quintyne, both four, Rhena's mother Surinder, 29, parents Azra Rafiq and Wendy Willington, both also 29, and Lisa Potts, 21. The case was adjourned until Monday when the judge is expected to start his summing up.

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