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Home News Stories Parish councillor, 42, dies after being shot by Nazi-fanatic neighbour

Parish councillor, 42, dies after being shot by Nazi-fanatic neighbour

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A ‘beautiful and talented’ parish councillor has died after he was shot by a a Nazi fanatic who thought he was a ‘government agent’ and hated the police. 

‘Troubled’ Alex Sartain, 34, shot James Nash, 42, with a ‘handmade gun’ in the front garden of the councillor’s £600,000 thatched cottage in the pretty Hampshire hamlet of Upper Enham, near Andover.

Sartain, who suffers form paranoia, had come to believe Mr Nash was spying on him and was ‘trying to get him sectioned’.

He gunned down children’s author and artist Mr Nash at around 3pm on Wednesday, who sadly died today his mother Gillian Nash confirmed on social media.

She wrote: ‘Thank you very much for your comments. Very sadly I have to tell you that James Nash died of his brutal injuries today.

‘His father, his sister and I are in a total state of shock and grief. We have lost a beautiful, talented son and brother.’

The leader of Test borough council, Phil North, wrote on his Facebook page: ‘This is such devastating news. 

‘I’m sure there will be many more tributes to James in the coming days and weeks – and in time an opportunity for the community to come together with his family to consider some form of lasting memorial to his life.’

Officers gave chase in a patrol car after Sartain – who locals said had issues with drinking or drugs – fled on his own Yahama R1 motorcycle, but he later crashed and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The gunman ‘liked’ various Nazi pages on his Facebook, including one dedicated to Horst Wessel, a leader of the stormtroopers in Berlin. Wessel was made Nazi martyr by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels after he was killed in 1930. 

He also liked a page for Adolf Galland, a German Luftwaffe general, and another titled ‘I HATE POLICE’. 

Locals understand that Sartain’s family, did not have specific issues with Mr Nash personally. Mr Nash suffered serious head injuries in the attack, with his wife Dr Sarah Nash, a senior space scientist, sustaining minor injuries.

One local claimed Mr Nash wanted an ideal country life as an artist ‘in his little cottage house’ after quitting the aerospace industry and had complained about work carried out by locals who owned businesses nearby.

Sartain worked at JMS Motorcycles – a garage locals say is owned by his father – and previously served jail time for stealing from Marks and Spencer and TK Maxx. 

The Sartain’s family garage is just 200 yards from £600,000 Holly Tree Cottage, where Mr Nash and scientist wife Sarah live.

A recent planning application launched by Mr Nash also suggests he had his own plans for developing a barn on his land but had met with opposition locally.

‘Troubled’ motorcyclist Alex Sartain who gunned down a parish councillor before dying in a police chase worked as a mechanic at a garage (pictured) just yards down the road from his victim’s home

Alex Sartain, 34, (pictured) shot James Nash, 42, in the front garden of the councillor's thatched cottage in Hampshire

 Alex Sartain, 34, (pictured) shot James Nash, 42, in the front garden of the councillor’s thatched cottage in Hampshire

Mr Nash died after he was shot by 'troubled' neighbour Alex Sartain, 34, at their home in Upper Enham, near Andover

His wife Dr Sarah Nash, a senior space scientist, sustained minor injuries

‘Beautiful and talented’ James Nash (left) has died today, while his wife Dr Sarah Nash (right), a senior space scientist, sustained minor injuries after they were shot by ‘troubled’ neighbour Alex Sartain, 34, at their home in Upper Enham, near Andover on Wednesday

A police cordon remains in place today in Upper Enham in Hampshire, following the shooting on Wednesday. A man who fled the scene was later killed

A police cordon remains in place today in Upper Enham in Hampshire, following the shooting on Wednesday. A man who fled the scene was later killed

The gunman 'liked' various Nazi pages on his Facebook, including one dedicated to Horst Wessel, a leader of the stormtroopers in Berlin. Wessel was made Nazi martyr by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels after he was killed in 1930

The gunman ‘liked’ various Nazi pages on his Facebook, including one dedicated to Horst Wessel, a leader of the stormtroopers in Berlin. Wessel was made Nazi martyr by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels after he was killed in 1930

He also liked a page for Adolf Galland, a German Luftwaffe general, and another titled 'I HATE POLICE' (pictured)

He also liked a page for Adolf Galland, a German Luftwaffe general, and another titled ‘I HATE POLICE’ (pictured)

Locals understand that Sartain’s family, did not have specific issues with Mr Nash personally. Pictured: A picture shared to Sartain’s Facebook page believed to be of the garage where he worked

Another resident, who again did not wish to be named said that Mr Sartain worked as a mechanic and that people in the village were speculating on motives. Pictured: A picture shared to Sartain’s Facebook page believed to be of the garage where he worked

Sartain had two brothers, Scott, 32, and Gary, 30, as well as a sister, Zoe, 28. Pictured: A garage believed to be where Sartain worked

Sartain had two brothers, Scott, 32, and Gary, 30, as well as a sister, Zoe, 28. Pictured: A garage believed to be where Sartain worked

Aerial shots show that Sartain’s home was close to the proposed building. There is no suggestion that Sartain opposed the plans, and police have not revealed any motive. 

Tony Bennett, 55, owns a bodyshop and restoration business on the same road as Mr Nash and the Sartains and said he had fallen out with Mr Nash over planning issues.

Speaking today he said: ‘When it came to planning applications it was one rule for Mr Nash and one rule for everyone else.

‘I have had my business, a body and restoration company, for two years with no problems.

‘Then suddenly, Mr Nash raised an objection that his neighbour has asthma and my body paint business was causing her problems.’

Mr Bennett said what had happened to Mr Nash was horrific but he wasn’t the ‘pillar of the community’ some had made him out to be.

He continued: ‘Mr Nash wanted to change the name of MacCallum Road – he wanted it be called Upper Enham – god knows why, probably to make it sound better.

‘He wanted to come down here and live his little country life in his cottage and act like he was in the Darling Buds of May.’

Mr Bennett, who has lived in the village for 20 years and is close friends with Sartain’s dad John, said he spoke to Alex the day before the shooting and he seemed agitated.

He said: ‘I saw Alex the day before and he pointed at Mr Nash’s house and said “they are trying to get me sectioned”.

Mr Nash had submitted a planning application for an 'agricultural building' (pictured) on his property which would have allowed him to 'store machinery necessary for the upkeep and cultivation of the surrounding land'

Mr Nash had submitted a planning application for an ‘agricultural building’ (pictured) on his property which would have allowed him to ‘store machinery necessary for the upkeep and cultivation of the surrounding land’

Aerial shots show that Sartain's home was close to the proposed building (pictured as it is now). There is no suggestion that Sartain opposed the plans, and police have not revealed any motive

Aerial shots show that Sartain’s home was close to the proposed building (pictured as it is now). There is no suggestion that Sartain opposed the plans, and police have not revealed any motive

‘Because Mr Nash used to work in aerospace Alex got it in his head that this guy works for the government. He had it in his head that he was being spied on.

‘A week ago Alex’s dad, John, had been trying to get him sectioned. Alex had been sectioned three times.

‘On the day it happened John didn’t hear Alex go out or anything like that.

‘His dad told me today that Alex always said he wanted to die on his motorbike.’

On the day of the shooting, staff at Mr Bennett’s garage and had heard Sartain driving up and down the road before the hearing a muffled ‘bang, bang’.

He said: ‘Some of my guys who were working heard some sort of muffled bang bang, it didn’t really sound like a gunshot.

‘They had heard Alex driving up and down on his motorbike. He went past James’s – must have seen him in the garden and came back up.

‘The next thing they knew the ambulance had turned up.’

Mr Bennett said he was under the impression Mr Nash and John Sartain got on ‘pretty well’ and does not believe the ‘homemade shotgun’ used in the attack was fashioned at the Sartains’ garage, adding: ‘It was a handmade gun – Alex’s dad found it up at the yard and handed it to the police.

‘It was matte black and made from two bits of metal. It had been welded terribly.’

Mr Bennett said there was no way it was made in the family’s workshop because John would have known about it and instead suggested Sartain may have obtained the weapon through ‘drug contacts’. 

A biography for Mr Nash – who is originally from Dorset – states that in 2012 he ‘returned to the countryside to follow his heart and become a full time wildlife artist’ following ‘a successful career in the aerospace industry’.

His wife, Dr Nash, works as a senior space scientist in a research lab in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

It is thought the Sartains have lived on their neighbouring estate for at least 20 years, with Zoopla estimating it to be worth £575,000.

A resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said today that her daughter went to school with Sartain and he was a ‘lovely boy’. 

The woman, who was in her 40s, said: ‘Alex is the guy that crashed. My daughter knew him but I didn’t think he was a bad person. I believe his dad owns the garage. It’s his dad’s motorcycle business.

‘I don’t think they are bad people. I have heard there was some kind of issue between Alex and the Nash’s but I don’t know what it could be.

‘I haven’t seen him for some years but as far as I know he lived with his dad at the garage.

‘I have seen James at a few meetings and he seemed to have fitted into village life very well. He bought that old cottage and did it up.’

Another resident, who again did not wish to be named said that Mr Sartain worked as a mechanic and that people in the village were speculating on motives.

Speaking outside her home just down the road from the scene of the attack she said: ‘We don’t know what the reason could be. Mr Nash was well liked and he was a nice man.

‘We know the guy who shot him was called Alex Sartain, he used to help fix motorbikes. I think he worked at the garage but I have never met him.’ 

The parish councillor was described as a man committed to his community who last year took on the role of Father Christmas in a local village hall.

Mr Nash’s father Peter told The Times that he does not know what state his son is in or whether he will survive but he said: ‘I hope to God he does.’ 

Speaking today at her home in Dorset, James Nash’s mother Gillian said her son is a kind and gentle person and she can’t imagine why anyone would want to hurt him.

Her son had never mentioned any dispute with Sartain.

She said: ‘I don’t know anything about him. The only thing I know is someone sent me a cutting of his previous crimes.

‘James never mentioned him. He’s not the sort of person he would know.

‘He’s helped a lot of people with a lot of difficulties so it might be someone he tried to help but he never mentioned him.

‘He’s still fighting for his life, we haven’t heard anything yet. My husband is not well so my daughter has gone to the hospital today but she doesn’t know anything more yet.

‘There’s no words basically. He’s a kind, gentle person. I can’t imagine why this would happen.’

A villager said: ‘We don’t know what caused the younger man to target James – there must have been a dispute of some sort.

‘But I know that the shooter was a troubled soul who had had issues with drink or drugs.’

The villager said he had heard that Mr Nash was fired at with a ‘homemade shotgun’. 

He described Mr Nash as ‘mild-mannered’ and said the councillor had been instrumental in securing speed warning signs for the hamlet last year.

Another local resident added: ‘I know the guy that was shot. He is a lovely guy. He would literally do anything for anyone. He helps out with lots of things. A few years ago we had a fair and he was asked because he had a tractor to come and help out. He is a really nice person whenever I have spoken to him. He renovated his whole house recently and it looks very modern.’

Last night police revealed a 40-year-old woman was also assaulted during the incident on Wednesday and sustained minor injuries.

Mr Nash describes himself on his blog as ‘a naturalist, first and foremost devoted to the conservation of our wild world’.

The site says he is resident artist at The Hawk Conservancy Trust based in Andover.

Following the shooting, Mr Nash was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital as armed police descended on the hamlet, where the average house price is £813,149. The suspect crashed his bike on the A343 three miles away, near the village of Hurstbourne Tarrant.

The Nash’s house is located on a quiet country lane next to the Enham Trust, a charity which provides support and care for the vulnerable and disabled.

Forensics were pictured at the scene today in Enham, Hampshire. A police cordon remained in place following yesterday's shooting

Forensics were pictured at the scene today in Enham, Hampshire. A police cordon remained in place following yesterday’s shooting

Armed officers swooped on idyllic Upper Enham, Hants, Wednesday afternoon after the attack which police said left a 42-year-old man with serious injuries. Pictured: Police at the scene of the shooting in MacCallum Road, Upper Enham

Armed officers swooped on idyllic Upper Enham, Hants, Wednesday afternoon after the attack which police said left a 42-year-old man with serious injuries. Pictured: Police at the scene of the shooting in MacCallum Road, Upper Enham

The crash site was three miles from the scene of the shooting. The rider died at the scene of crash, police have now confirmed

A trust spokesman said: ‘We are saddened by the events that took place yesterday and our thoughts are with the individual affected.

‘This is of course a worrying time for the community and we are supporting residents within the village, but can confirm that nobody supported by the Trust or staff were involved.’

Hampshire Police said in a statement: ‘Officers were called to an address following a report of an assault on a man. It’s now known the 42-year-old victim was shot and received serious injuries. He is currently receiving treatment at Southampton General Hospital.

‘A motorcycle failed to stop for officers in connection with this incident. A short time later a motorbike crashed. The motorcyclist died at the scene.’

The force said a mandatory referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct had been made, adding that officers had attended an address in Enham Alamein parish as part of this investigation. 

In a statement yesterday Phil North, leader of Test Valley Borough Council whose ward includes Upper Enham, said: ‘The police have confirmed that they are not looking for anyone else and that they’re confident that the deceased suspect is responsible, which I hope will reassure residents.’

A council leader today praised parish councillor James Nash as a ‘kindhearted individual’, saying he is ‘utterly shocked at this terrible incident’.

Phil North, leader of Test Valley Borough Council, which encompasses Enham, said: ‘As the ward councillor and a regular attendee of Enham Alamein Parish Council meetings, I know James well and have worked with him on a number of projects.

‘I knew that it was him that had been shot on the day of the attack but I’m still utterly shocked at this terrible incident.

‘James is such a kindhearted individual who cares deeply for his community.

‘He’s a hands-on parish councillor, having recently been involved in erecting the speed indicator devices and helping solve the Newbury Road flooding issue by cleaning out culverts.

‘He’s also a talented children’s author and illustrator and I was extremely touched last year when one of the dedications in his latest book was to my newborn daughter.

‘My thoughts remain with James, his family and the people of Enham Alamein. I hope and pray he makes a good recovery. We’re all with you, James.’

Councillor North also said ‘police are confident the deceased suspect is responsible’ for the shooting.

‘To reassure residents, police have confirmed they are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident and although the exact circumstances of the shooting remain unclear, they’re confident the deceased suspect is responsible.’

Kit Malthouse, MP for North West Hampshire, also described the shooting as ‘shocking’.

He added that his ‘thoughts are naturally with the victim and families of all those involved’ and said ‘deep thanks go to the police for the confident and professional handling of the ongoing investigation’.

Sartain had two brothers, Scott, 32, and Gary, 30, as well as a sister, Zoe, 28. A villager said: ‘Alex had a history of petty crime over recent years and had got into drugs I think too. Nobody can understand why he has done what he has done.’

Locals said James Nash, whose wife is a top space scientist, is in hospital being treating for gun shot wounds following shooting in Upper Enham yesterday

Locals said James Nash, whose wife is a top space scientist, is in hospital being treating for gun shot wounds following shooting in Upper Enham yesterday

Mr Nash lives with his wife Dr Sarah Nash, a top scientist who works at a laboratory that builds space equipment

Mr Nash lives with his wife Dr Sarah Nash, a top scientist who works at a laboratory that builds space equipment

Police gave chase after the shooting suspect, who is believed to have initially left the scene on foot before jumping onto a motorbike, was seen fleeing the area. Pictured: Police forensic teams were at the scene of the shooting today

Police gave chase after the shooting suspect, who is believed to have initially left the scene on foot before jumping onto a motorbike, was seen fleeing the area. Pictured: Police forensic teams were at the scene of the shooting today

A forensic van was seen earlier today pulling up outside a police cordon in MacCallum Road, Upper Enham, where the shooting took place

A forensic van was seen earlier today pulling up outside a police cordon in MacCallum Road, Upper Enham, where the shooting took place

According to a local council chief, police believe the rider was responsible for the shooting and officers 'are not looking for anyone else'. Pictured: A police forensic team at the scene of the shooting in Upper Enham

According to a local council chief, police believe the rider was responsible for the shooting and officers ‘are not looking for anyone else’. Pictured: A police forensic team at the scene of the shooting in Upper Enham

Officers ‘are not looking for anyone else’ in connection with the shooting. 

Mr Nash, who is a councillor for Enham Alamein Parish Council, and his wife live in a detached two bedroom cottage in Upper Enham.  

He was named as the victim by a resident who lives nearby and is said to be an an active councillor who has been heavily involved with the local community.

Speaking of Mr Nash, the resident said: ‘I know the guy that got shot. He writes children’s books and he is an artist. I know of him and I have spoken to him but I don’t know him as a friend.

‘He is a lovely guy. He would literally do anything for anyone. He helps out with lots of things.

‘A few years ago we had a Fair and he was asked because he had a tractor to come and help out. He is a really nice person whenever I have spoken to him.

‘He renovated his whole house recently and it looks very modern.’

James Roberts, who lives close to Mr Nash’s home said: ‘We’re all quiet shocked because this place is as quiet as it gets. We’re in the middle of the countryside and not much happens around here. The only noise you get is from animals.

‘I heard a loud bang and thought somebody had let off a firework. And soon after, there was police everywhere.’

Meanwhile, his wife Dr Nash works at the Science and Technology Facilities Council in Didcot in Oxford.

The research laboratory is a government agency that carries out research in science and engineering. 

Its areas of specialism include particle physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy Mr Nash describes himself on his blog as ‘a naturalist, first and foremost devoted to the conservation of our wild world’. 

As police raced in pursuit of the motorbike, the rider crashed on the A343 in Hurstbourne Tarrant. Pictured: Police at the scene of the crash

As police raced in pursuit of the motorbike, the rider crashed on the A343 in Hurstbourne Tarrant. Pictured: Police at the scene of the crash 

The rider died at the scene of crash (pictured), according to Hampshire Police, who have launched an investigation and referred the incident to the Independent Officer for Police Conduct (IOPC)

The rider died at the scene of crash (pictured), according to Hampshire Police, who have launched an investigation and referred the incident to the Independent Officer for Police Conduct (IOPC)

The site says he is resident artist at The Hawk Conservancy Trust based in Andover, Hants.

Hampshire Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

A spokesperson for the force said: ‘The man had been shot and sustained serious head injuries. He remains in a critical condition in Southampton General Hospital. 

‘A 40-year-old woman was also assaulted during this incident and sustained minor injuries. ‘A motorcycle failed to stop in connection with this incident.

‘A short time later, a motorbike crashed on the A343 near Hurstbourne Tarrant and the road was closed while emergency services attended.

‘The motorcyclist, a 34-year-old man, died at the scene. Next-of-kin have been informed and formal identification procedures are ongoing. 

‘A mandatory referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct has been made in relation to the road traffic collision near Hurstbourne Tarrant. 

‘Officers also attended an address in Enham Alamein as part of this investigation. Detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances of these incidents.’

‘While enquiries into the incident in Upper Enham are at an early stage, detectives do not believe there are any outstanding suspects in this investigation.’ 

Chief Inspector Kory Thorne, Test Valley district commander, said: ‘We know residents in the Upper Enham and Hurstbourne Tarrant areas will have been concerned by what happened yesterday.  

According to a local council chief, police believe the rider was responsible for the shooting and 'are not looking for anyone else'. Pictured: MacCallum Road in Upper Enham, where the shooting took place

According to a local council chief, police believe the rider was responsible for the shooting and ‘are not looking for anyone else’. Pictured: MacCallum Road in Upper Enham, where the shooting took place

Hampshire Police, who last night closed off a road, say a mandatory referral has been made to the Independent Officer for Police Conduct (IOPC) and that officers have attended a property in nearby Enham Alamein as part of this investigation

Hampshire Police, who last night closed off a road, say a mandatory referral has been made to the Independent Officer for Police Conduct (IOPC) and that officers have attended a property in nearby Enham Alamein as part of this investigation

‘They are likely to see a continued police presence in these areas while we investigate the circumstances. 

‘Officers from our Neighbourhood Policing Team will also be carrying out patrols for added reassurance. If you live in the area and have any concerns, please speak to them.’  

An IOPC spokesperson said: ‘We have received a mandatory referral from Hampshire Police relating to a fatal road traffic incident in Doiley Bottom, Andover involving Hampshire Police on Wednesday 5 August. We are now assessing the level of IOPC involvement in any investigation.’

Local council leader Phil North, who represents the ward in which the incident took place in, described it as an ‘absolutely horrible incident’.

Councillor North, who represents the Bourne Valley Ward and is leader of Test Valley Borough Council, said in a statement on Facebook: ‘(This is) an absolutely horrible incident in my Bourne Valley Ward this afternoon.

‘My thoughts are with the family of the man who was shot – and the communities of both Enham Alamein and Hurstbourne Tarrant.

‘I’ve been informed of some of the details by local sources this evening but I certainly don’t have a full picture.

‘I will hopefully get further information from the police in the morning and that they will be able to reassure local residents.

‘But tonight, let’s all hope that the victim of the shooting makes a full recovery.’

In another post today, he added: ‘I know this will be a very worrying time for the community and until the police complete their investigations we won’t get a full understanding of the incident.

‘The police have confirmed that they are not looking for anyone else though and that they’re confident that the deceased suspect is responsible, which I hope will reassure residents.’

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