Family begs to demolish house of horrors where twins were bludgeoned to death

A grieving family is appealing to the public for support after they have submitted new building plans for the 'house of horrors' where their two elderly twin uncles were brutally killed.

There were plans to develop 109 Cowick Lane in Exeter, Devon, where 84-year-old Dick and Roger Carter were bludgeoned to death, but these were withdrawn when the scheme was met with public opposition and branded as "disrespectful".

New plans have now been submitted by the family to create two semi-detached plots on the tragic site, along with a desperate plea for the public to be more understanding about their need to move forward after the deaths.

Since the address became the centre of police investigations into a savage triple killing spree by former public schoolboy Alexander Lewis-Ranwell in February 2019, it has been left derelict and deserted.

The then 28-year-old of Croyde, Devon, began his killing spree by beating pensioner Anthony Payne, 80, to death with a hammer at a property in Bonhay Lane.

Nearly three hours later, he made his way on foot to Cowick Lane in Exeter, Devon.

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One of the elderly brothers who lived at 109 tried to usher him away from the house, but the delusional killer went around the back of the house and found a spade.

He climbed over a wall and "once inside, beat both brothers to death with blows to the head with the spade," prosecutors told the trial.

Several local residents have objected to the development plans, instead voicing their favour of the site being turned into a memorial garden and not used for commercial gain.

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But the surviving family of the twin brothers say they need to sell off part of 109 Cowick Lane, appealing for more sensitivity and understanding from members of the public.

A statement submitted as part of the application said: "We stress this is simply an outline application by the family who need to sell off part of 109 Cowick Lane after the tragic circumstances of the loss of their uncles.

"The main house has fallen into disrepair, which they would like to see restored. The walled garden and outbuildings are now sadly an under-utilised space – once a thriving market garden business set up by the brothers.

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"I would appeal to a few of those who complained so harshly that some sensitivity be shown after such a tragic event.

"Some issues raised are wild speculation unfounded in fact. Many arising from a lack of understanding and appreciation of the situation and the applicants' motives, while other comments that were not legitimate planning reasons at this stage.

The statement added: "The point of the outline application is to establish the principle of creating a pair of semi-detached plots so that the plots can be marketed and give them some confidence in what could be achieved, while giving them freedom to exercise their creative flair to give each dwelling its individuality."

The application will be considered by Exeter City Council at a later date.

Exeter Crown Court previously heard how Lewis-Ranwell, a paranoid schizophrenic, embarked on a killing spree under the delusion he was uncovering a paedophile ring.

The defendant was found not guilty of the three murders by virtue of insanity.

The prosecution accepted he was seriously ill but said he should bear some criminal responsibility for the killings.

Mrs Justice May said the defendant would be detained in hospital.

Speaking after the case, the family of Dick and Roger Carter said: "Dick and Roger Carter were born, lived their lives and died at the house in Cowick Lane.

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"They were quiet and kind gentlemen who, before retirement, spent their working lives with the family mushroom business.

"This case has focused on the mental health of the defendant. However, we must not forget the victims of these crimes. Vulnerable elderly gentlemen, who were subjected to vicious, violent, unprovoked assaults which led to their deaths. It has been difficult for family and close friends to comprehend the full horror of the events in early February and their sudden and violent deaths."

The other crime scene – 65 Bonhay Road – where Mr Payne had lived for 50 years, was later sold for £138,000 to investors. It fetched £22,000 less than the asking price.

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