Arrow attack victim lobbies for change to crossbow regulations

April 22, 2021

A woman has paid tribute to her “loving partner” after an inquest jury concluded that he was killed unlawfully. Goole man Shane Gilmer, 30, was killed with a crossbow by next-door neighbour, Anthony Lawrence, at his home in Southburn, East Yorkshire, on January 12, 2018. Mr Gilmer‘s partner, Laura Sugden, who was 17 weeks pregnant at the time and was shot in the head, survived the attack. A five-day inquest at Hull Coroner’s Court heard how Lawrence, 55, had crept into the couple’s home through an adjoining loft after removing bricks. He lay in wait as the couple were out and attacked when they returned home. Ms Sugden went upstairs to turn on an electric blanket and noticed a mark on the landing carpet. She pushed open a bedroom door and saw Lawrence standing in the shadows armed with a crossbow. She was pushed back onto the bed and Mr Gilmer confronted Lawrence who shot him with the crossbow. Lawrence told the couple he would kill them both for getting him evicted from his home next door. He claimed they alerted his letting agent to a smell of cannabis coming from the property. Ms Sugden, who was 17 weeks pregnant at the time with the couple’s daughter Ella-Faith, now nearly three-years-old, was also injured but managed to flee the scene and alert neighbours and emergency services. Mr Gilmer tragically died on arrival at Hull Royal Infirmary after suffering a cardiac arrest. Lawrence had already left by the time emergency services arrived and a three-day manhunt ensued before he was found dead in a caravan in North Yorkshire after taking a drug overdose. The couple already had issues with Lawrence, with one incident seeing him threatening to kill them both with an axe, and another that saw him place horse manure in their garden. The jury delivered a unanimous conclusion that said Shane had been unlawfully killed. The foreman said: “Shane Adrian Gilmer was shot by a man using a crossbow in Main Street, Southburn. The injuries sustained caused damage to the right forearm, liver and kidney which resulted in catastrophic blood loss. He was transported to Hull Royal Infirmary and despite treatment there, at the scene and on the way he lost his life.” Professor Paul Marks paid tribute to Shane’s family and said: “I can’t begin to imagine how the effects of Shane’s loss have affected the family. They have conducted themselves with great dignity.” After the inquest, Ms Sugden paid tribute to Mr Gilmer and vowed to campaign for tighter crossbow regulations brought into law. Ms Sugden said on Friday, April 16: “Shane was a loving partner and a wonderful dad and step-dad. “He is missed every day by me and the rest of his family. It was clear from his final words how much he loved us all and I hope he knew how much we all loved him. “Shane was murdered in the most cruel and terrifying way imaginable. It is unbelievable that the sale and ownership of such a lethal, medieval weapon remains unregulated in our modern society. “There are no laws in place to help prevent crossbows from falling into the hands of twisted and dangerous individuals like Anthony Lawrence. “This lethal weapon has been forgotten about in the Government’s strategy on tackling gun and knife crime. “That’s why today, in loving memory of Shane, and to honour our beautiful daughter that he never got to meet, I am launching a campaign to call for legislation governing crossbows to be brought in line with firearms laws. “Over the coming weeks I will be speaking to MPs and the Home Secretary to see what can be done to reform crossbow laws. I’d like to thank my family, friends and legal team for their unwavering support through such a truly harrowing experience.” Gemma Vine, of Ison Harrison Solicitors, said: “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 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. “The Crossbows Act 1987 simply makes it an offence for crossbows to be bought by or sold to those under the age of 18. “In contrast, the Firearms Act 1968 requires those wishing to possess a firearm or ammunition to be assessed by the police, and also restricts ownership in certain circumstances. These checks mean that members of the public are protected from potential misuse. “Yet we do not know how many crossbows there are in circulation in the UK or in what circumstances they are held. Something must be done to help stop such horrific attacks and deaths.” 

Shane is pictured with girlfriend Laura.

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