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1996: Guilty verdict on school machete attacker

A man who attacked three children and four women with a machete at an infant school teddy bears' picnic has been found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder.

Horrett Campbell, 33, a paranoid schizophrenic, was told he faces life imprisonment for the attack at St Luke's infants school, in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, in July this year.

The court heard Campbell had imagined he heard the children taunting him when he walked past the playground.

He denied attempted murder but admitted grievous bodily harm.

But a jury of six men and six women at Stafford Crown Court took less than three hours to find him guilty unanimously on all counts.

Campbell stood impassively as Mr Justice Sedley ordered him to be detained at Ashworth high-security hospital, in Liverpool, for 12 weeks.

He said: "Unless this is a case in which I am caused to send you to a mental hospital under the Mental Health Act, I shall be certainly passing a sentence of life imprisonment on you."

He said he would recommend a bravery award for Miss Lisa Potts, the nursery nurse at the school.

'Justice done'

The court heard, despite suffering the worst injuries in the attack, she shielded many of her young pupils from Campbell's blows.

With a child under each arm and others cowering under her dress she tried to protect her class of three and four-year-olds.

The four-day trial heard Campbell had planned the attack for two months.

At 1510 BST on 8 July he left his flat in a tower block overlooking the school, armed with a machete.

He attacked three mothers waiting outside the school before attacking three children and Miss Potts, 21, who suffered severe cuts to the head, arms, and back.

After leaving the court in tears, Miss Potts said she was pleased that justice had been done but said she could never forgive Campbell for inflicting the injuries on her pupils.

In Context
Campbell was jailed for life for the attack which effectively ended Miss Potts' teaching career.

The attack left her suffering from severe scarring, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and Miss Potts underwent surgery on her arm which was almost severed in the attack.

She was awarded the George Medal for protecting the children and fought for five years for adequate compensation.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority finally awarded her 68,000 by 2001 although its policy of only paying out for three injuries sustained, regardless of the nature of an attack, received widespread criticism.

Ms Potts has now trained as a counsellor.


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