Crossbow killer took revenge by shooting neighbour and pregnant girlfriend at Yorkshire home after being served eviction notice

The partner of a man killed in a horrifying crossbow attack told an inquest how a neighbour shot her in the head in a deadly revenge attack after being served with an eviction notice.

Shane Gilmer
Shane Gilmer

Anthony Lawrence blamed Shane Gilmer and Laura Sugden, who lived next door in the sleepy hamlet of Southburn, in East Yorkshire, for reporting him to letting agents about a strong smell of cannabis coming into Mrs Sugden’s daughter’s bedroom. He was given two months to vacate the property following an inspection in December 2017.

Lawrence was not told the true reason, however two loads of horse manure were dumped in their garden shortly afterwards.

On January 12 2018, Lawrence who had previously threatened Mr Gilmer with an axe after he was asked to turn down loud music, lay in wait after getting into their house through a shared loft space, an inquest jury heard.

Shane Gilmer and right, Anthony Howarth, also known as Anthony Lawrence

Mr Gilmer, 30, a “caring and helpful” housing officer for East Riding Council, was fatally injured by a bolt, which went through his arm, fracturing a bone, before going into his body, breaking a rib and then into his spine. But Ms Sugden, who was 20 weeks pregnant, survived despite being shot in the head.

She told the inquest jury how she’d gone upstairs after returning home after a night out and noticed a black mark on the carpet before finding Mr Lawrence standing in her daughter’s bedroom. Fortunately her daughter was away at the time.

He pushed her back into her bedroom where she dived under the duvet to dial 999 on her phone.

She said: “I heard Shane get to the top of the stairs, I heard him going to the bedroom, I didn’t hear a noise or anything until I started to hear what sounded like Shane moaning a little bit.

“Next thing Shane came in with Tony behind him and went to the floor at the side of the bed.”

Lawrence insisted Mr Gilmer get the phone out of his pocket, but he was doubled over and Ms Sugden asked if she could help, putting it on the floor, where Lawrence stood on it a couple of times.

She said: “I asked him if what he did to Shane would kill him and he said it would and he would kill me as well. I was really trying to reason with him and saying I didn’t know what he was talking about, why he was doing it. He said we were having him evicted.

“I said we weren’t and I will ring the letting agent and tell them it was nothing to do with us.

“He said I was lying, a lying b****, because he’d been listening to us for a year and then it was us reporting him. Then he shot me at the top of my head.”

She struggled with Lawrence on the floor and he tried to push the arrow, which she’d pulled out, into her neck, while she pleaded with him to spare her life, before she managed to escape.

She said: “Shane was still conscious and he said: ‘You just need to go and get help. I said: ‘I can’t leave you. He said: ‘Just go, keep you and baby safe’.”

She ran to the nearby home of Zoe and Timothy Rymer, who heard her frantic knocking at the door.

In a statement Mrs Rymer said she thought initially she had been in a car accident as she was “absolutely covered in blood”. She tried to stanch the bleeding from a gaping wound in her neck and tried to reassure her as her husband called the emergency services.

A response vehicle arrived within 18 minutes of a 999 call at 9.30pm, the inquest heard, however an ambulance didn’t arrive for another 26 minutes.

They finally arrived at Hull Royal Infirmary at 11.28pm.

Despite "heroic" attempts to save his life Mr Gilmer died in the early hours of January 13.

The inquest continues.