Shane Gilmer killing: East Yorkshire man's partner calls for review of crossbow laws

A woman from East Yorkshire who watched her partner be shot dead with what she describes as a "lethal and medieval weapon" is calling for a major review of laws surrounding crossbows.

Laura Sugden and Shane Gilmer were attacked by their neighbour, Anthony Lawrence, in January 2018 when he broke into their home via the loft and shot them both with a crossbow.

Laura, who was pregnant at the time, was also stabbed in the neck at the house near Driffield - she said that Shane risked his life so that she and their unborn daughter could live.

Lawrence was found dead two days later in a layby in the North York Moors, he attacked the couple after he was served an eviction notice because they said they could smell cannabis coming from his home.

Anthony Lawrence was found dead two days after attacking Shane and Laura.

At an inquest earlier this month Shane was found to have been killed unlawfully, with the coroner at the inquest saying that he would write to the Home Secretary about his concerns regarding crossbow sales.

Laura and her legal team have launched a petition to change the law around crossbow sales so that they are more similar to gun ownership laws.

What are the rules around weapon sales in the UK?

  • Under current firearms laws - police checks must be carried out before someone can possess a gun or ammunition. They also need to hold a firearm certificate - subject to some exemptions.

  • Under the Crossbows act - it's an offence for a crossbow to be bought by or sold to someone under the age of 18.

Laura said: "It's not spoken about as much as gun and knife crime is, but still they are just as fatal and lethal.

"An injury by a shotgun is an instant thing. A crossbow bolt it's one of the most painful weapons.

"It's just incredible that they've managed to go this long without requiring a license. It's just terrifying really."

Gemma Vine, who is Laura's solicitor, said: "We want the restrictions akin to those used with firearms which would mean that the police would have to assess anyone who wants to purchase a crossbow, this is assessments in terms of their mental and health and having a look at their previous criminal record if they do have one."

In response to the petition a Home Office spokesperson said: "Crossbows are subject to strict controls and legislation is in place to deal with those who use them as a weapon.

"We keep the legislation on bladed articles and offensive weapons, including crossbows, under review."