A judge has authorised the continued detention of the North Devon man who is accused of a triple murder in Exeter.

Alexander Lewis-Ranwell, aged 27, is currently being treated at Broadmoor Hospital and was not present at the short pre-trial hearing in front of Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.

The judge moved the planned trial date from July to November 18 this year to allow more time for psychiatric reports to be prepared.

He said: "I vacate the trial date of July 1, which cannot be met and must be refixed. There is an equally good case to extend custody time limits because of the tests being carried out on the mental health of Mr Lewis-Ranwell."

Mr Richard Smith, QC, prosecuting, said it is intended that Lewis-Ranwell will be examined by a consultant psychiatrist engaged on behalf of the Crown.

Lewis-Ranwell, formerly of Broadwoodkelly, near Okehampton, and Whiddon Down, Barnstaple, is charged with the murder of twins, Dick and Roger Carter, aged 84, and Anthony Payne aged 80 at their homes in Cowick Lane and Bonhay Road, Exeter, in February.

He is also accused of two offences of causing grievous bodily harm with intent on 9 February in Goodleigh, North Devon and 11 February in Exeter.

Judge Johnson set a new provisional trial date for November 18, when the case will be heard before High Court judge Mrs Justice May at Exeter Crown Court.

Mr Andrew Langdon, QC, defending, said it is hoped to serve psychiatric evidence on behalf of the defence in the next few weeks.

Former public schoolboy Lewis-Ranwell, who is now of no fixed abode, was arrested after a massive police investigation into the murders of the three pensioners, whose bodies were found with serious head injuries in Exeter in February.