A public schoolboy has been found guilty of attempted murder after claiming he was sleepwalking when he attacked two students and a teacher with hammers.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was dressed only in his boxer shorts when he repeatedly struck his dorm-mates as they slept in their cabin-style beds in one of the boarding houses at Blundell’s School in Tiverton, Devon, in June last year. Both boys suffered skull fractures, as well as injuries to their ribs, spleen, a punctured lung, and internal bleeding.

Maths teacher Henry Roffe-Silvester was asleep in his own quarters when he was awoken by noises coming from the boarding house and went to investigate. He told a jury he saw a silhouetted figure standing in front of him in the room who then turned and repeatedly hit him over the head with a hammer. “Physically I stumbled backwards into the corridor. There was a second blow – I cannot remember if it was before I stumbled back – that is a little bit hazy for me,” said Mr Roffe-Silvester, who suffered six blows to the head.

The teenager, who was 16 at the time, admitted carrying out the attacks but said he was sleepwalking at the time and denied three charges of attempted murder. However, the court was told he had an obsession with the killing of children and hammers, which he said he kept by his bed for “protection” from the “zombie apocalypse”. Prosecutors said the boy armed himself with three claw hammers and waited for the two boys to be asleep before attacking them. He was found guilty of attempted murder after a two-month trial at Exeter Crown Court on Friday.

The court was told the teenager had a history of sleepwalking and he told jurors his mother found him at the bottom of a staircase at their home about 10 years ago. He said he had no recollection of the attacks and remembered falling asleep on the evening of 8 June. “I remember being in the room,” he said. “The room was covered in blood. What I could see was blood. I did not hear anything. I remember walking out to the corridor.”

He added: “I knew something really bad had gone on and everyone was looking towards me. I did not remember doing anything, so the only rational thing I was thinking was that I was sleepwalking.” The boy said he did not intend to kill either Mr Roffe-Silvester or the two boys, adding: “I feel very terribly sorry for all three individuals because of what I did to them. I feel very sorry for everyone, the families, and themselves.”

Prosecutor James Dawes KC told the jury an examination of the teenager’s iPad revealed he had been listening to music on Spotify moments before launching the assaults. He said the police investigation “uncovered an obsession” he had with one of the boys, as well as “an obsession with hammers as weapons, and an obsession with killing and killers and the killing of children.”. He also had a screwdriver and a Swiss Army knife in his room. “It may not be palatable, and it may not be particularly logical, but it appears to be an obsession that he carried out,” Mr Dawes said.

“These are deliberate actions, and he reigned blows down on their unprotected sleeping heads with heavy hammers. He used both sides of the hammer, including the sharp claw. Those hammers he had purchased in advance, again – a choice he made months in advance of this attack. These violent actions were repeated again and again.”

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