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Private school pupil convicted for hammer attack

|News, Violent crime

A private school pupil who left two of his housemates with life-changing injuries after a violent hammer attack has been convicted of their attempted murder.

The pupil at Blundell’s School in Tiverton in Devon, used a claw hammer to assault two sleeping pupils on June 9, 2023 and then attacked a teacher who rushed in to intervene. The boy was convicted of three counts of attempted murder at Exeter Crown Court today.

He will be sentenced on 18 October.

Helen Phillips, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said:

“This was a terrifying attack on two defenceless boys sleeping in their beds, who are lucky to still be alive.

“The pupil’s thirst for violence then saw him turn his attention to the housemaster, who was struck by a hammer but bravely intervened and stopped him in his tracks.

“The boy, who had a macabre interest in murder, serial killers, and violence, showed no remorse and naïvely thought that by concocting a story about sleepwalking at the time of the attack he could evade punishment.

“Today’s result is evidence that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service will not hesitate in prosecuting those who commit serious violence.”

The attack

Just after midnight on June 9, 2023, the boy picked up a claw hammer and used this to violently attack one of his roommates, causing him severe damage to his skull, lung and ribs.

Shortly afterwards, he approached another of the boy’s beds and, while they were asleep, used the hammer to smash his head multiple times and gouge his arm.

Both victims survived the attack, thanks in no small part due to the work of paramedics who quickly arrived at the scene, but have been left with life-changing injuries.

The repeated blows to both victims’ heads caused them serious and permanent damage.

After attacking his two housemates, the boy did not stop there. The housemaster having been woken and wanting to investigate the noise upstairs, was attacked as soon as he opened the door into the boys’ room.

He was also attacked with a claw hammer, and despite announcing “it’s me” to try and persuade the pupil this wasn’t an intruder, the attack did not stop.

He was eventually able to rip the hammer from the pupil's grasp and later described him as “expressionless” and “unsettling”.

Building our case

The pupil had consistently claimed he was “sleepwalking” or “dreaming” at the time of the attack, and that this would explain his actions.

However, following digital analysis of his devices, including an iPhone and iPad, prosecutors were able to prove that these were both active and in use a few minutes before the hammer attack took place.

Tracking data showed exactly how he used the devices, from opening applications, locking and unlocking screens, and switching off the backlight.

The iPad was shown by the prosecution to have last been in use just after 00.50am.

The housemaster said in his witness account that he had been woken-up at around 00:48am and the first 999 call, made by another pupil, was recorded at 00:57am.

The background to June 9, 2023

The prosecution was able to prove the pupil had a strong interest in violence and weapons. In his room, he kept a locked stash of what other pupils described as ‘weapons’, including shards of broken glass, screwdrivers and multiple hammers.

He also appeared to have a fascination with serial killers, prison, murder and killing, having conducted dozens of internet searches on all of these topics.

He used the pseudonym ‘Arthur Hutchinson’ on one of his many social media accounts and entered search terms including ‘How do serial killers get caught’, ‘Hammer murders’ and ‘Killer kills victims while sleeping’ on Google months before the night of the attack.

Other evidence showed that he sent unsavoury and at times alarming messages to one of his victims in the months leading up to the attack.

This included images of an exposed brain and face, and another was a character from the film Texas Chainsaw Massacre wielding a hammer.

Notes to editors

  • The boy was 16-years-old when he carried out the attack in June 2023.
    He was convicted of three counts of attempted murder.

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