A TEENAGER who based his mother's "grotesque" murder on a plot from Coronation Street has been detained for a minimum of 16 years. Daniel Bartlam, 14, fantasised about being a character in the soap opera before carrying out what he believed would be "the perfect murder".
In Coronation Street, the character John Stape killed a woman with a hammer and then burnt her body in the wreckage of a smashed tram. Bartlam, now 15, armed himself with two hammers before creeping into the bedroom of his mother, Jacqueline, 47, on April 25 last year, and smashing her seven times about the face and skull. He then wrapped her body in newspaper, doused it with petrol, and set it alight.
As flames engulfed the family's home in Redhill, Nottingham, he removed his younger brother from the building and then went back for his pet dog. Hours later, during a police interview, the schoolboy calmly told detectives the blaze had been started by a masked intruder. The truth emerged when officers examined his laptop and found a plan of the murder.
"The only place he couldn't get away with his bad deeds was with his mother Jackie," he wrote. "One evening [he] made it look as though it was a break-in and murdered his mother with a hammer and then set her and the family home alight."
The computer investigation also revealed a montage of fire scenes from TV soap operas, and evidence that he had visited a website entitled How To Get Away With Murder. Later in the investigation detectives learnt that the privately educated Bartlam had been allowed to watch horror films such as the Halloween series and The Evil Dead from the age of eight.
In the months before the killing, the local authority had raised concerns about the boy's behaviour. He told a counsellor that voices were telling him to hurt those around him. Despite this, several experts had concluded that he did not pose a risk.
During his trial at Nottingham Crown Court Bartlam claimed to have "lost control" during a row about a pair of trainers. The jury rejected his argument and found him guilty. Last week, the trial judge, Mr Justice Flaux, agreed that the teenager's name could be made public.
The court heard that Bartlam had woken his mother to ask where she had put his new trainers. Within minutes, he had flown into a rage.
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Meynell, who led the investigation, said: "The level of violence, the degree of planning and the extent of his lies is not shocking but also chilling."
Mrs Bartlam's former partner, Simon Matters, said he had been shocked by some of the horror films the teenager had been allowed to watch. "Some would scare adults, but he seemed to thrive on it," Mr Matters said. "I don't think he was mad. I think he was bad, and so he killed someone who was the most vulnerable."
Mrs Bartlam's parents, Geoffrey and Shirley Brooks, said after the verdict:
"Trying to understand how a boy you have loved for 14 years can do something like this is so difficult."