Partner of crossbow victim says Home Office law review is ‘bittersweet’

A campaigner whose partner was murdered by a crossbow-wielding neighbour said it was “bittersweet” that ownership rules will be reviewed following an incident at Windsor Castle.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered the Home Office to look at strengthening controls on owning the lethal weapons.

The decision comes after a 19-year-old man was arrested at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day while allegedly in possession of a crossbow.

Windsor Views – Berkshire
Windsor Castle, where a teenager was arrested allegedly holding a crossbow (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Metropolitan Police said the man had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Police are also reviewing a video that appears to show a masked figure in a dark hoodie holding a crossbow and addressing the camera with a distorted voice, saying they wanted to “assassinate the Queen” in a “revenge” mission.

Laura Sugden, 31, has been calling for a review of the ownership laws after she was shot with a crossbow and her partner, Shane Gilmer, was murdered by their neighbour in January 2018.

Shane Gilmer inquest
Laura Sugden, speaking after her partner’s inquest, has campaigned for tougher crossbow laws (Dave Higgens/PA)

The local government worker said the Home Secretary had told her in the summer that she would not review the legislation.

Reacting to the latest news from the Home Office, Ms Sugden told the PA news agency: “It’s bittersweet, if I am honest.

“I am delighted to hear Priti Patel is going to review the current rules, I’m just saddened that Shane’s death and everyone else before and after were not enough for her to look into it.”

Home Secretary bullying accusations
Home Secretary Priti Patel has promised to act following the latest incident at Windsor Castle (Aaron Chown/PA)

Ms Sugden launched her Shane’s Law campaign in April this year, calling for people who want to buy a crossbow to face similar criminal record and mental health checks to those required for shotgun sales.

Within three months, the Home Secretary contacted her to say she would not be reviewing the law, the campaigner said.

Ms Sugden’s campaign will continue. Her legal team is in the process of compiling official statistics to show that crossbow incidents are not rare.

She was thankful that no-one was injured in the Windsor Castle incident, adding: “I know how it feels.

“It is the most terrifying thing I have and will ever experience, so I can imagine how she (the Queen) will be feeling.”

About the Home Office’s promise to act now, she said: “It is disheartening to think your family member didn’t matter.”

Shane Gilmer inquest
Shane Gilmer, who was killed by a crossbow fired by his neighbour (Family handout/PA)

An inquest in April found that Mr Gilmer, 30, died after his neighbour, Anthony Lawrence, broke into their house in Southburn, near Driffield, East Yorkshire and laid in wait for them.

He later killed himself in a campervan.

A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement the department had been instructed to look at possible ways to “strengthen controls” on the weapons.

“Crossbows are subject to controls and legislation is in place to deal with those who use them as a weapon,” the spokesperson said.

“At the Home Secretary’s request, we are considering options to strengthen controls on crossbows. Work on this has been ongoing throughout the year, and we keep all relevant laws under review to maintain public safety.”

Under current legislation, it is an offence for anyone under 18 to purchase or possess a crossbow and for anyone to sell a crossbow to someone aged under 18.

Crossbows may also be considered offensive weapons and are prohibited from being carried in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.