Daniel Bartlam saw himself as murderous soap character - police

Daniel Bartlam
Image caption Daniel had been watching horror films from age eight

Easter Sunday 2011 began routinely for Daniel Bartlam. He took his pet dog, Meg, to get her coat trimmed, mowed his mother's lawn and ate some Easter eggs.

There were some fairly typical family fall-outs too, including one about a broken computer game.

Then, late at night, he woke his mother to ask where she had put his new trainers. It turned into a furious row which ended when he beat her to death, in a fit of rage.

Jacqui Bartlam was killed with a claw hammer. Daniel, who was 14 at the time, hit her seven times, fracturing her face and skull.

He then tried to destroy the evidence by turning on the gas and setting the house on fire. His mother's body was burned so badly she had to be identified by dental records.

Fantasy world

As flames spread through the family home, Daniel took his little brother next door to raise the alarm. He went back to rescue the pet dog.

By the time fire crews arrived, he was already lying about what happened.

Image caption Daniel's mother could only be identified by her dental records

Det Ch Insp Kate Meynell, who led the murder inquiry, said: "Daniel had stuffed newspaper down the side of her body, poured petrol on the body and then set fire to her.

"What's impressed on me more than anything is when we interviewed him only seven hours after he'd killed his mother, how he was very convincing about what we now know to be a complete lie about an intruder."

Daniel maintained his lie for several weeks. But detectives found damning evidence that shattered his false alibi.

He had made detailed plans for the killing, and how to cover his tracks. Those plans were set out in a macabre soap opera plot that Daniel wrote on his computer, a document he tried to delete only days before the murder.

In his story, Daniel was a master criminal, who got away with a string of gruesome murders, rapes, and assaults.

He wrote: "The only place he couldn't get away with his bad deeds was with his mother Jackie. So one evening he made it look as though there was a break-in and murdered his mother with a hammer and then set her and the family home alight."

In the story, he got away with it - but not in real life.

Image caption The boundaries between Daniel Bartlam's real life and his fiction became blurred, the trial heard

In court, the jury heard that Daniel had immersed himself in a fantasy world. And the boundaries between real life and fiction became "tragically blurred".

His story was based on a fictional killing, committed by Coronation Street character, John Stape.

He murdered a woman with a hammer, then left her body in the wreckage of a tram crash. It was Daniel's favourite soap opera plot.

So what prompted a young teenager to commit such a horrific crime? And were there any warning signs?

Daniel Bartlam had a privileged upbringing. He was privately educated, at Dagfa House School in Beeston but when his parents got divorced, they could not afford the fees.

Macabre imagination

Daniel resented changing schools and did not get on with his new step-mother. He spent more and more time alone in his bedroom, withdrawing into a fantasy world.

In court, it emerged that Daniel had been fascinated with horror movies since he was eight. Jacqui's partner, Simon Matters, said he had been concerned at some of the films in his room.

He said: "The Halloween movies. The Evil Dead movies. All of those sort of movies are 18s and beyond and some of them would probably scare adults, but he seemed to thrive on it.

Image caption The house was badly damaged in the fire

"It just shocked me and I just said to Jac 'these are inappropriate for him'.

"He used to go to high street stores, sometimes these second-hand stores and buy these films. There must be something that can stop them buying them in a shop.

"You can't go into a DIY shop for example and buy a knife if you don't look 21. Any normal thinking person wouldn't have done what he did unless he'd got something imprinted in his brain from what he watched."

Mr Matters told the BBC the teenager could be intelligent and bright, and fun when he was on form. But there were other things that he found disturbing.

"He would just destroy things. He used to write stories, but his stories were a bit more macabre you know, they were about fighting and knives and killing and he'd draw a picture of knives or blood dripping from a knife.

"I don't think he was mad. I think he was bad. So he killed someone who was the most vulnerable person. The easiest person. And he thought by making up the web of lies that he did, he would get away with the murder."

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