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

A man who killed three elderly men because he wrongly believed they were paedophiles has been cleared of murder.Exeter Crown Court heard Alexander Lewis-Ranwell battered his victims – all in their 80s – with a shovel and a hammer in a “whirlwind of destruction”.He has paranoid schizophrenia and was having delusions about saving girls from a paedophile ring, jurors heard.The 28-year-old was found not guilty by reason of insanity after jurors decided he “did not know it was illegal”.Twins Richard and Roger Carter, 84, and Anthony Payne, 80, were bludgeoned on 10 February.The court heard Mr Lewis-Ranwell was arrested and released by police twice in the lead-up to the killings.The man who killed three times after police bailed himHe began the first fatal attack just three hours after he had been released from police custody, where he had been held for wounding a farmer with a saw.It was his second arrest in the space of 24 hours and came just seven hours after he was arrested over an attempted burglary at another farm.Three psychiatrists agreed Mr Lewis-Ranwell was insane when he battered his victims.But the prosecution had argued the defendant bore some responsibility for what happened.The court heard evidence of Mr Lewis-Ranwell’s interaction with various health professionals during his three spells in custody between 8 and 11 February.After his first arrest his mother phoned police expressing “grave concerns should he be released” but he was charged and bailed.A police inspector reviewing his detention found he “potentially presents as a serious risk to the public if released”.A forensic medical examiner – a doctor employed by G4S Health Services – deemed he was not “acutely unwell” and a full mental health assessment was not carried out.Mr Lewis-Ranwell was released from Barnstaple police station at about 09:30 on 10 February and travelled to Exeter.He entered the home of Mr Payne at about 12:30 and picked up a rusty hammer, which he used to bludgeon the pensioner to death.Less than three hours later Mr Lewis-Ranwell scaled the wall of the Carter brothers’ home in Cowick Lane, taking a spade from the garden and using it to beat them both to death.After his final arrest the defendant told a psychiatrist at Broadmoor secure hospital: “I cannot believe no-one helped me – they let me out twice when I was unwell.”

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