Machete man sent to secure mental hospital

Saturday 08 March 1997 00:02
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Horrett Campbell, a paranoid schizophrenic, was sent to a secure mental hospital for an indefinite period yesterday for his horrific machete attack in an infant school playground.

Mr Justice Sedley passed sentence on Campbell, 33, at Teesside Crown Court after he was found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder during a Teddy Bears' picnic at St Luke's School in Wolverhampton, last July.

Yesterday's proceedings followed the trial at Stafford Crown Court in December when the jury heard how Campbell, obsessed with Thomas Hamilton, the Dunblane mass killer, walked to the school near his home in the Villiers House tower block armed with a machete.

His first victim was Wendy Willington, 29, then he struck out at two other mothers, Azra Rafiq and Surinder Chopra, also both 29. Finally he attacked Ahmed Malek, three, and Rhena Chopra and Francesca Quintyne, both four, and also severely injured Lisa Potts, a 21-year-old nursery nurse as she tried to protect the children.

Mr Justice Sedley, after hearing a psychiatric report that Campbell was suffering from severe schizophrenia, said it was accepted his mental illness led to him carrying out "these dreadful crimes".

"In some ways it is a relief to know it was a profoundly sick and deluded individual who committed these offences. To believe such an act could be carried out by a sane person would shake belief in humanity."

The judge said anyone hearing the proceedings would realise Campbell was "deranged".

The attack stemmed from his delusion that the children were talking about him as he passed the school and that their mothers had given information to the police about him.

Campbell regarded Thomas Hamilton, who killed 16 pupils and their teacher, "in some perverted way as a kindred spirit". Also, from the psychiatric report, it was clear Campbell hoped his actions would help exorcise a "ghost" which he had felt had been dominating his life for a number of years.

Psychiatrist Dr James Collins told the court that Campbell became increasingly isolated because of his mental illness and "in the end I think he felt he had to do something dramatic to make a statement about the way he saw himself being treated for so long by local people".

He said Campbell was a great danger to the public and may never recover from his illness.

The judge said that nursery nurse Lisa Potts, who suffered serious injury while trying to protect the children in her charge, should receive a bravery award for her actions. "It is beyond doubt she deserves some public recognition."

Miss Potts, who was not in court yesterday, later described the sentence as the "end of a nightmare".

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