Following the recent inquest into the death of Shane Gilmer, who was “unlawfully killed” by a crossbow, our solicitors, together with Shane’s partner, Laura Sugden, are raising awareness of the dangers of crossbows and today we are launching a campaign to encourage new crossbow legislation which ensures that legitimate ownership and use of crossbows is protected but safeguards are in place to reduce the likelihood of such lethal weapons being possessed by those with no legitimate reason to own or use them or those whose possession of a lethal weapon would likely give rise to concerns for public safety or the peace.
We are campaigning to introduce #ShanesLaw in memory of Shane Gilmer.
How was Shane Gilmer killed?
Shane (30) and Laura (27) lived next door to Anthony [Tony] Lawrence (55) in a semi-detached property in Southburn, nr Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire. The couple had been together for 2 years and shared their home with Laura’s daughter from a previous relationship.
On the night of the attack, Tony accessed the couple’s property via the adjoining roof space. He had carefully removed bricks on the run up to the attack and had also used a listening device to eavesdrop on their conversations, probably throughout the preceding year.
Shane was fatally injured by a crossbow bolt that struck his arm, pinning it to his side. Laura was shot in the head, before being physically attacked with an arrow that Tony pushed into her neck.
Emergency services were not able to commence lifesaving treatment on Shane until approximately 45 minutes after being shot. This was due to the length of time it took to arrive at the scene and then concerns that Tony could have been in the immediate area putting the emergency services at risk due to the range that a crossbow can fire at.
An inquest into Shane’s death took place at Hull Coroners Court 12th-16th April 2021. During the attack both Laura and Shane managed to call the emergency services and the inquest jury were read a transcript of the distressing 999 calls made by the couple. They included messages which Shane asked to be passed on to Laura and his family as he lay dying from his injuries.
Following the attack Tony Lawrence fled the scene and was subsequently found dead in a camper van on 14th January 2018. (As of 21st April 2021, the inquest into his death has not yet taken place.)
On the 16th April 2021, the inquest Jury returned a conclusion of ‘unlawful killing’. Professor Paul Marks, HM Senior Coroner said that he would be making a prevention of future deaths report, to raise concerns about the danger of crossbows which are currently unregulated.
How dangerous are crossbows?
Crossbows are silent, lethal weapons. They have a similar effective range to a shotgun but offer the accuracy of a rifle. They are inexpensive and incredibly easy to obtain. The intention of this campaign is to seek further regulation of the purchase/acquisition/possession and use of crossbows and associated crossbow bolts.
The sad truth is that we have no idea how many crossbows are in circulation in the UK.
We understand that there have been 42 crossbow incidents where someone has reportedly died or been injured.
In addition, there are another 43 cases involving incidents where a crossbow has been used to threaten someone or used in a crime.
We believe the law needs to change.
Gemma Vine, our specialist Inquest solicitor who represented Laura Sugden, comments:
The laws that govern the use of crossbows in the UK are woefully inadequate. In recent years there have been several high-profile murders, but still lethal crossbows are readily available to purchase for as little as £150.
They are powerful and life-endangering weapons that ought to require the same checks and licences as gun owners.
How You Can Help
Without a change to the law, crossbows will continue to be readily available and accessible to anyone over the age of 18. There is a concerning rise in cases where people have either been seriously injured or killed by a crossbow and without this weapon being regulated in line with firearms we fear that the numbers of deaths and serious injuries will continue to rise further.
By signing Laura’s Parliamentary Petition, you can help her achieve the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a parliamentary debate on the proposed law change.
You can help raise awareness by sharing this campaign on social media using #ShanesLaw #ChangeCrossbowLaws @IsonHarrison