United Kingdom

Armed police threw stun grenade into crossbow killer's bedroom over fears he would attack them

Armed police used a stun grenade during their search for Anthony Lawrence on the night he killed Shane Gilmer with a crossbow.

An inquest into Shane Gilmer's death is ongoing after the 30-year-old was shot dead by neighbour Anthony Lawrence after he disputes over his cannabis use and loud music.

Mr Gilmer died after a crossbow bolt, fired by Lawrence, 55, broke his arm and a rib, damaged his liver and kidney and became embedded in his spine, Hull Coroner's Court heard previously. 

Lawrence turned on Mr Gilmer's girlfriend 27-year-old Laura Sugden and shot her in the head before slashing her neck when she managed to remove the bolt.

Mr Gilmer, who had two daughters from a previous marriage, was expecting a baby with Ms Sugden, who was around 20 weeks pregnant. 

The inquest heard Ms Sugden was forced to beg for the life of her unborn child before she was able to flee to a neighbours while Lawrence also fled the scene. 

An inquest into the death of Shane Gilmer who was killed by crossbow-wielding neighbour Anthony Lawrence has heard how armed police used stun grenades when hunting the suspect

On day four of the inquest at Hull Coroners Court, the jury heard evidence from officers who arrived at the hamlet village of Southburn, near Driffield, on January 12, 2018.

One of the first officers at the scene, PC Liam Whittington said he was called to the couple's home after reports of a woman shouting 'he is going to kill me'.

Lawrence had broken into his neighbours' home by removing bricks from their adjoining loft and waiting until the couple returned from their night out at the Gino D'Acampo restaurant in Kingswood. 

The terrifying events that followed saw Lawrence flee the scene while Ms Sugden ran to a neighbouring property for help - despite having her neck slashed.

Shane Gilmer (above, with Laura), 30, died after a crossbow bolt fired by Lawrence broke his arm and a rib, damaged his liver and kidney and became embedded in his spine, court heard

Lawrence (right) launched his attack over a belief Shane and Laura (left) had conspired with his letting agent to have him evicted after disputes over his cannabis use and his loud music

Shane's last words: 'I need to say something. I love my children' 

Shane Gilmer asked emergency services to tell his children he loved them after his neighbour shot and fatally wounded him with a crossbow, an inquest today heard.

Shane Gilmer, 30, called 999 and stayed on the phone for 30 minutes as he bled out after Anthony Lawrence, 55, attacked him and his pregnant partner Laura Sugden in their home.

During the call to emergency services Mr Gilmer said: 'I need to say something. I love my children.'

He said he could not move and there was 'blood everywhere' and could be heard breathing heavily and crying and screaming with pain during the half-hour call, the inquest was told. 

Later in the call, he said: 'I need to tell my mum and dad I love them. I've fallen out with them last week but I really love them. I love Laura, I hope they are all OK.' 

He repeatedly asked where the emergency services were and said they were taking 'too long', the inquest heard.

Towards the end of the phone call, Mr Gilmer said: 'I feel like I'm fading, I've lost so much blood. She sounded so scared. I can't believe this has happened.'

The call ended shortly after police arrived at the house and told Mr Gilmer that Ms Sugden was safe.

Armed police and paramedics made their way to the scene of the attack after the alarm was raised by both Ms Sugden and Mr Gilmer in separate 999 calls, one of which captured Mr Gilmer's heartbreaking final words to his children, parents and Laura and their unborn child.

Eight armed police officers arrived at the scene, and after receiving authorisation to enter, 'immediate action' was taken by officers 'to locate victims and then to provide protection for the victims, paramedics and ambulance staff'.

David Falcus, a firearms officer at Humberside Police, relayed to the jury how they made the initial search for the potentially armed assailant.

He told the court: 'I could see [Mr Gilmer] was being tended to by a paramedic and I could see he had a wound to the side of his chest.

'We carried out what we call an emergency search of number 24 looking for further victims.

'I then went directly to number 25, the subject's own house [Lawrence], and commenced a search of that address.

'Upon entering the loft I could see right in front of me a partitioning wall and I could see a number of bricks had been removed from that wall.'

He told the court that officers scoured the address before coming to the final room - the main bedroom - where a stun grenade was thrown in.

The distraction device was used over fears that Lawrence could have been 'hiding' and 'waiting for them'.

He said that because it was the last room to be searched, the main bedroom was 'therefore the most likely place the subject could have been hiding.'

Extra precautions were taken by both paramedics and police officers over the course of the night due to the 'dark time of night' and 'village location'.

Armed police officer Michael Deighton told the court: 'We were in a village location with little street lighting, we were surrounded by fields and we had no idea where the suspect was.'

The court heard Shane's last words to Laura were instructing her to get out of the house 

The homes of Lawrence (believed to be on the left) and Mr Gilmer (believed to be on the right)

The officer said he felt at risk as no one knew where the 'armed suspect who may be in the shadows watching us' had gone.

A manhunt for Lawrence was launched and his body was found in a remote area of North Yorkshire inside a campervan three days later and as a result no criminal trial took place. 

In evidence from orthopaedic surgeon, the jury heard how the bolt shot by Lawrence passed through Mr Gilmer's right forearm at an angle into his torso which punctured his spine.

The coroner asked the surgeon whether earlier extrication to hospital would have resulted in Mr Gilmer's life being saved, with previous professionals telling the court that it would not have made a difference.

The surgeon said he 'completely agreed' that earlier extrication wouldn't have made a difference to the outcome of Mr Gilmer's life.

He went on to say that Mr Gilmer had lost 'virtually his entire blood volume' and that unless he had almost immediate attention at hospital 'his chances of survival were always less than 50 per cent'.

The surgeon concluded by saying that had Mr Gilmer arrived at hospital sooner 'he would have had a better chance of survival but still the odds were against him'.

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