Exeter triple murder trial: Killer thought it was 'morally good'

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Alexander Lewis-Ranwell was arrested twice in the two days before he killed the three men

A man killed three elderly people because he thought it was "a morally good thing to do", a jury heard.

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, mistakenly believed his victims were paedophiles, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Twins Richard and Roger Carter, 84, and Anthony Payne, 80, were bludgeoned to death in Exeter on 10 February.

Mr Lewis-Ranwell, 28, does not dispute killing them but denies murder on the grounds of insanity.

Dr John Sanford, a consultant psychiatrist, said in his opinion Mr Lewis-Ranwell knew he was causing "serious harm" to the elderly men, "but he didn't think these people were completely innocent".

Mr Lewis-Ranwell believed a woman he had seen pictured in a magazine had been abducted by paedophiles and was being kept in the victims' homes, Dr Sanford told jurors.

"It's my opinion he was on a quest and that was a morally good thing to do," Dr Sanford said.

He told jurors Mr Lewis-Ranwell had been having delusional thoughts at the time of the killings and on previous occasions in his life.

Image copyright Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption Mr Lewis-Ranwell was released on bail on 10 February from Barnstaple police station, the morning of the killings

By the summer of 2018, the accused was in a relationship in London and working as a scaffolder, the court heard.

In the report by Dr Sanford, Mr Lewis-Ranwell described his mental state as being very good at that time.

After the relationship broke up in 2019, Mr Lewis-Ranwell returned to Devon to live in a campervan.

"In my opinion this is the beginning of the the delusions coming back," Dr Sanford said.

The trial continues.

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