Yorkshire mothers join forces to fight for changes in the law around weapons after tragic deaths of child and partner

Two Yorkshire mothers united in grief have joined forces to fight for changes in the law surrounding the sales and licensing of weapons following the tragic deaths of a child and partner.

Jenny Dees (left) and Laura Sugden (right)

Laura Sugden's partner Shane Gilmer was killed with a crossbow by their neighbour, while Jenny Dees' six-year-old son Stanley Metcalf was killed with an air rifle by his great grandfather.

Miss Sugden, 30, recently started campaigning for a change in the law after an inquest ruled Mr Gilmer, 30, was unlawfully killed by Anthony Lawrence, who attacked the couple after he was evicted from his house in Southburn, Driffield, following a complaint. Lawrence killed himself in the days after the attack

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Miss Sugden, who was five months pregnant at the time with their daughter Ella - now two - was shot in the head and lucky to survive. She is calling for crossbows to be under the same restrictions as firearms and her petition has already reached more than 40,000 signatures.

Miss Dees, 43, is campaigning for tougher rules around air weapons licensing under Stanley's Law in memory of her son. The six-year-old was shot in the abdomen with a modified air rifle at a family gathering at his great grandfather Albert Grannon's house in Sproatley in East Yorkshire.

Grannon was later jailed for manslaughter.Miss Dees said that as soon as she heard about Miss Sugden's campaign, she just wanted to help, which has led to the two women forming a great friendship.

"Laura has done an amazing job so far, but I just wanted to help in any way I could so I have said that when I meet with the Home Secretary to further discuss Stanley's Law I will mention Laura's campaign," Miss Dees said.

"Because we've gone through a similar experience you feel like you've finally got someone who connects with you. She is as passionate about this as I am and I don't feel as alone. The thoughts and feelings of what has happened to your loved one are exactly the same."

Miss Sugden said: "Jenny and I have a lot of similarities in the way we feel. There is the anger and sadness that comes in waves. Nice is the wrong word, but it is nice to have someone who understands exactly how you feel."

Both women say they will never get over their trauma, but agree the birth of their babies since Stanley and Mr Gilmer's death has helped them rebuild their lives slowly.

Miss Dees gave birth to Tilly in July 2020, while Miss Sugden welcomed her and Mr Gilmer's daughter Ella just months after his death in 2018.

Miss Dees said: "Having Tilly brought that little bit of happiness back and it was like a new beginning.

"Tilly has got Stanley's personality. She laughs all the time and the second she wakes up she springs out of bed.

"The home completely changed when we lost Stanley, but Tilly brings so much laughter back."

Miss Sugden said: "Jenny feels exactly the same as I do. Once I had Ella it was apparent how much she made a massive difference to how I was feeling and the same thing happened to Jenny when Tilly was born. It is a feeling of sadness, but happiness at the same time."

Miss Sugden says she has to be strong for Ella and her older daughter Isabelle. She said: "If I didn't have my children, things would be very different. Having two people that need me everyday makes me get up in a morning. They are my focus. I don't really think to the future and I don't make plans. I live every day like it is my last.

"I know Shane would do the same thing for me if it was the other way around and that is the reason I am doing this. He risked his life for me and for someone to love you that much is just unbelievable. Now I am doing something for him."

The Home Office says that crossbow legislation remains under review and that laws are in place to deal with those who use them as a weapon

The Government's also considering the results of a national consultation on firearms safety - including restrictions on air weapons - which it says are already tightly controlled.