A teenager locked in a violent fantasy world was detained for 16 years yesterday for beating his mother to death with a hammer in a murder inspired by a Coronation Street storyline.
Daniel Bartlam, who was immersed in television, film and internet violence, also wrote a nine-page soap plot, starring himself, in which he committed the "perfect murder", which provided the blueprint for the killing of his mother, Jacqui, 47.
Bartlam, who was 14 at the time, struck his mother seven times before pouring petrol around her bedroom and setting the property alight in April last year. She could only be identified afterwards from dental records.
The teenager, who initially told police an intruder was behind the killing, later admitted what he had done. He said he lost control after his mother called him a "freak" but detectives found that the killing had been weeks in the planning.
Detectives found that he had stored violent storylines from dramas including Trial and Retribution, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks on his computer. One scene from Coronation Street showed character John Staple fatally wounding another character with a hammer.
The court was told that Bartlam had looked up websites including "How to get away with murder" and "People who get away with murder in shows".
Violent video games and films, including 18 certificate films The Amityville Horror and Final Destination were also found at the house in Redhill, Nottingham. He had watched violent movies from the age of eight and viewed the horror film Saw before the killing.
Bartlam thought he had deleted his own story but police were able to retrieve it from the hard drive. The plot detailed the crimes of "Daniel Bartlam 1997-2047, the longest serving male character to be on the show". The character was involved in robbery, vandalism and grievous bodily harm. "The only place he couldn't get away with his bad deeds was with his mother Jacqui," according to his own story. "So one evening he made it look as though there was a break-in and murdered his mother with a hammer and then set her and the family home alight."
Prosecutors said that the boundaries between real life and fiction for Bartlam, now aged 15, had become "tragically blurred". In February, a jury unanimously found the teenager guilty of murder. Sentencing him at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday, Mr Justice Julian Flaux told the boy he must serve a minimum of 16 years for the "grotesque" and "senseless" killing. The judge said it seemed like the teenager wanted to "get away with the perfect murder".
Mrs Bartlam's parents said: "We find it so hard to explain what we are going through. There are no winners here because not only have we lost Jacqui, we have lost Daniel too. The most difficult part for us, and something that only Daniel can answer, is 'why?'"