Killer blasted neighbour with shotgun after becoming convinced he was Putin spy

A killer blasted his neighbour with a shotgun and stamped on his head after convincing himself he was a spy working for Vladimir Putin, an inquest heard.

Alex Sartain, 34, attacked James Nash, 42, at his home in Upper Enham, near Andover, Hampshire, on August 5, 2020.

The children’s author and parish councillor was left with fatal head injuries, and he died three days later at Southampton General Hospital.

Sartain, who suffered from mental health issues, fled the scene on a motorcycle and died in a crash as he was pursued by police.

Prior to the attack, he developed a belief that Mr Nash was spreading coronavirus under the orders of Russian leader Putin.

Mr Nash's widow Sarah Nash witnessed the horrifying attack, which took place in their front garden.

She told Winchester Coroners’ Court: "He was asking me what I was going to do to compensate him for the loss of income and livelihood that he had suffered, that I knew exactly what was going on.

"That I was part of the reason he was locked up, that I wasn't who I said I was, that I was a NASA scientist, that I knew everything about this Project Pandora, and what was I going to do about it."

Sartain's father, John, said in a statement read to the hearing that his son had an issue with Mr Nash, who would regularly visit their home.

He said: "He was always on about James Nash, saying that James Nash had something to do with Putin and the spread of Covid."

He added Sartain believed Mr Nash, who had previously worked as a graphic designer for aerospace business Airbus, had been working in a conspiracy with Boeing and Nasa.

His brother Scott added: "Over the past few years, Alex Sartain's mental health really started to deteriorate and he would often stay in his room talking to himself, talking of people from space and government agencies spying on him."

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The inquest was told that Sartain was detained under the Mental Health Act in September 2019 before being released in April 2020.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing, Mr Pegg said: "Alex Sartain in his mind believed and had concerns that James Nash worked for President Putin and Nasa and James Nash was in some way in control of him."

Describing her husband, Mrs Nash said: "He was a kind and generous man who wanted to help people and the community at large.

"He was inspired by everything around him, he loved to draw, he loved to create and he wanted to share that with people and that's how he created his characters that went into his children's books."

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