Blundell's School hammer attacker was 'non-violent', court hears

Blundell's boarding school in Tiverton, Devon
The student defence witness told Exeter Crown Court that he "knew there was a problem with him sleepwalking" [BBC]

A deputy housemaster has told a jury she was "absolutely stunned" to hear a teenage pupil attacked three people with claw hammers.

The defendant is on trial for the attempted murder of two fellow pupils aged 15 and 16 at the time, and his housemaster Henry Roffe-Silvester.

The jury heard the Blundell's School pupil was known to sleepwalk.

The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons and is now 17, denies three charges of attempted murder.

'Sleepwalking difficulties'

Kate Woolford, who has worked at the school in Tiverton for 23 years, told the jury at Exeter Crown Court she thought the incident was "as far removed from anything the defendant would be involved in".

She said she knew the defendant "very well" but had no recollection of him sleepwalking.

"I never saw it, no recollection about sleepwalking, not even talking about it," she told the jury.

However, a student defence witness told the court that he "knew there was a problem with him sleepwalking".

He said two members of staff had told him about the "sleepwalking difficulties".

The student added staff said the defendant would make "noises in the middle of the night" as he walked around.

The student said the defendant was "quite quiet and got on with things" but was "not overly talkative or extroverted".

"He was quite kind, he was never really annoying or rude," he said.

'Respectful and kind'

The court has been told during the trial that the defendant accepts causing injuries.

Ms Woolford said he had a "very open demeanour and was always appreciative of everything I did for him".

"He was totally respectful and kind."

A matron at the school, Catriona Cruickshank, said the defendant was "non-violent and non-physical".

"I cannot think of anyone less likely to have committed this act."

She said the defendant was "understated and quiet".

She told the jury: "He just got on with things. He was always polite and greeted me with a smile.

"He was the kind of boy who would rather walk away to avoid any form of confrontation."

'Definitely concerns'

The two boys suffered head and other wounds in the hammer attack and the housemaster also suffered head injuries after being struck six times with a hammer as he went to investigate the incident.

The defendant said he armed himself with hammers to protect himself from the zombie apocalypse, and claimed he was sleepwalking and dreaming at the time of the attacks.

Ms Woolford, who was responsible for pupil welfare, admitted to the court there were "definitely concerns" about repercussions and parents taking their children out of the school after the assaults.

The trial continues.

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