The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious effect on people’s mental health and in one English village it even led to a murder. An inquest has recorded a verdict of unlawful death on parish councillor James Nash.
A mentally ill villager shot and beat his neighbour to death after convincing himself the man was working for Russian President Vladimir Putin and was helping him to spread the COVID-19 virus in Britain.
Alex Sartain, 34, used a home-made shotgun to shoot 42-year-old James Nash outside his cottage in Upper Enham, near Andover in the south of England on 5 August 2020.
On Wednesday, 21 March, the coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing on Mr Nash, who also wrote and illustrated children’s books.
Cllr James Nash inquest: Wife pays tribute to her ‘kind and generous’ husband https://t.co/sMShMosmy8
— Katie French #Buyapaper (@journokatie) April 19, 2021
Hampshire Coroner’s Court heard Sartain’s mental health problems went back as far as 2008 and when his father raised his concerns with a local doctor in June 2020 he “only got as far as the receptionist.”
The inquest, reported in the Andover Advertiser, heard Sartain became convinced Mr Nash “had something to do with Putin and the spread of Covid” and thought the parish councillor’s wife, Sarah, was working on a secret NASA programme called Project Pandora.
Sartain’s brother, Scott, told the inquest: “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.”
An inquest heard today how, hours after killing his neighbour, Alex Sartain crashed his motorcycle while driving at around 145mph, dying instantly https://t.co/WFLmkktI56
— Alex Boyd (@alexjamesboyd) April 21, 2021
On the day of the murder Sartain shot Mr Nash and repeatedly stamped on his head – causing injuries which he died from three days later – before fleeing.
He was later chased by the police and died after crashing his motorcycle.
In his ruling, the coroner Jason 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.”