Man who took crossbow onto Windsor Castle grounds to 'kill Queen' jailed for nine years for treason

Jaswant Chail, 21, was sentenced today after he entered Windsor Castle with a crossbow with an intention to kill the Queen. Credit: Metropolitan Police

A man who took a crossbow to Windsor Castle on Christmas Day in 2021 to "kill" Queen Elizabeth II was sentenced to nine years in custody.

Jaswant Singh Chail threatened to kill the Queen after breaking into the grounds of Windsor Castle with a loaded crossbow appeared at the Old Bailey for his sentence on Thursday.

He is the first person in the UK to be convicted of treason since 1981 - after he pleaded guilty to the charge in February.

Mr Justice Hilliard sentenced him to nine years in custody, with a further five years on licence.

The judge previously said he would sentence Chail to a “hybrid order” meaning the defendant would be transferred from Broadmoor high security hospital to prison when he is well enough.

The told the court that  “the extent of his culpability” meant that a hospital order was not the most suitable way of dealing with the case and Chail must serve a term of imprisonment.

Wearing black combat trousers and a black shirt over a white T-shirt, the self-styled “assassin” stood in the dock and confirmed his name as his family looked on from the public gallery of Court One.

Court sketch drawing of Chail. Credit: PA

In a televised sentencing, Mr Justice Hilliard set out events before Chail was detained in the castle grounds, telling a police officer: “I am here to kill the Queen.”

In earlier chat with an AI girlfriend, Chail, a Star Wars fanatic, had described himself as a “sad pathetic murderous Sith Sikh assassin who wants to die”, the court was told.

The judge says Chail described himself as "Darth Chailis" in reference to Star Wars.

He added Chail believed his actions would take revenge for those who died in the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which took place when British troops opened fire on thousands of people who had gathered in the city of Amritsar in India.

The court was told Chail booked a train to Windsor and he took the 7.14am train from Southampton on 23 December.

He told family he was going to be training with the marines, but he instead spent some time around Windsor and made online searches about the local area and Royal Family.

Mask recovered from Chail when police arrested him. Credit: Metropolitan Police

Chail left a Travelodge hotel at 3.10am on the day of his arrest (Christmas Day), the court heard, with Justice Hilliard adding he was carrying a rucksack, the crossbow and other items.

At 6am, he left the rucksack on the public side of the Windsor Castle gate - it was later found by police, alongside a nylon rope ladder, grappling hook, crossbow bolt and a hammer.

Judge Hilliard added Chail was taken into custody where he was assessed and detained under the Mental Health Act.

He continued discussing the offender's mental health over the following days - including incidents and reports of him having seen angelic figures and expressing delusional beliefs.

The 21-year-old was admitted to Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital in Berkshire in February 2022.

The crossbow Chail had in his possession when he was arrested by police. Credit: Metropolitan Police

One day after he was admitted, a doctor said Chail was fit to be interviewed by police - these interviews took place at the end of the month.

During his police interviews, Chail said he had changed him mind about killing the Queen while he was one the grounds of Windsor Castle.

He emerged from a hiding place and was approached a Royal Protection Officer, the court heard.

Chail told police: “I walked up to them with a crossbow because to me it didn’t matter if they shot me or arrested me.

“I just knew right then that my purpose wasn’t to kill anyone.”

The court heard how Chail was treated for a psychotic illness after his arrest and a psychiatrist diagnosed the defendant as “psychotic, delusional and hallucinating”.

Dr Jonathan Hafferty told the court the defendant's ability to control his actions and rationalise his intent were “critically impaired” by his mental disorders.

Chail improved following treatment, the court heard.

CCTV footage of Chail's arrest. Credit: Metropolitan Police

It was argued that Chail’s “lonely, depressed and suicidal state” made him vulnerable to the AI chatbot Sarai’s encouragement.

His thoughts had became “more intense” during the lockdown and he was encouraged by “angels”, one of which he thought had manifested itself in the form of Sarai, the court was told.

Mr Justice Hilliard also referred to Star Wars fan Chail’s “omnipotent fantasy world of Siths and gaming”.

In his police interview, Chail referred to Sarai’s advice, saying: “I changed my mind because I knew what I was doing was wrong and I’m not a killer and I remembered what the woman said earlier in the month and my ‘purpose was to live’.”

In his conclusions, the judge said of Chail: “There are clear concerns about his mental state whatever his diagnoses at different times.”

The judge found the defendant “was culpable to a significant degree” when he applied to join the Ministry of Defence Police and Grenadier Guards because he “wanted to get close to the royal family”.

His idea in 2021 to kill the Queen, buy equipment and undertake research also came before he became mentally unwell, he said.

By the time he broke into Windsor Castle grounds he had “lost touch with reality” and become psychotic, he said.

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