July 24th, 2024

UK mulls tighter use of crossbows as tributes pour in for 3 women killed


By Pan Pylas, The Associated Press on July 11, 2024.

A forensic officer at the scene in Ashlyn Close, Bushey, after an incident on Tuesday evening, in Hertfordshire, England, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. British police were hunting for a man believed to be armed with a crossbow after three women were killed in a house near London. Hertfordshire Police said Kyle Clifford, 26, was being sought over the suspected triple murder. (Jacob King/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) – A man suspected of killing two sisters and their mother in a crossbow attack was being treated in a major trauma center at a London hospital on Thursday as police carried out further searches of properties.

Tributes poured in for the three women who were found with serious injuries at their home in the quiet residential neighborhood of Bushey, northeast of the capital, on Tuesday evening. Police and ambulance crews tried to save Carol Hunt, 61, and her daughters Hannah, 28, and Louise, 25, but they were pronounced dead at the scene.

The women were the family of BBC radio’s horse racing commentator John Hunt. The killings prompted a major manhunt that led to the capture of the suspect, Kyle Clifford, in a cemetery the following afternoon around 15 miles (22 kilometers) from the scene of the crimes.

At a vigil at St. James’ Church nearby, shocked friends and neighbors gathered to pay tribute to the three women Thursday and to express their shock and anger. Some also laid flowers near the scene of the attack.

“We grew up together and were pregnant at the same time,” said Lea Holloway, who had known Carol Hunt since she was 16. “This is the stuff nightmares are made of … I can’t imagine what it would be like.”

“They were the loveliest, gentlest family,” said Su Kehinde, who lives nearby. “They were the meekest human beings. They did not deserve this. They were beautiful souls.”

After a frantic search across a swath of London’s northern fringe, Clifford was found Wednesday in the Enfield area of north London, near his home, with undisclosed injuries. Police officers, some wearing gloves and face masks, were seen at his address on Thursday.

Footage from Sky News showed the suspect being carried on a stretcher out of Lavender Hill Cemetery. Armed police officers, forensic personnel and ambulance staff had massed around the cemetery through Wednesday. Police did not say how he was injured, but stressed that they had not fired any shots. They said Clifford has not yet been arrested.

Further searches were taking place at a house linked to Clifford’s brother, Bradley Clifford, who was jailed for life with a minimum term of 23 years for the murder of moped passenger Soban Khan in 2018.

Police did not say how or whether Clifford was connected to the women, but said they believed the attack was targeted. British media reported that Clifford was an ex-boyfriend of one of the victims.

The BBC confirmed the victims were the family of its sports commentator John Hunt. Hunt is the main racing commentator for BBC 5 Live, the corporation’s news and sports radio channel. His voice is known to millions through his coverage of the world famous Grand National and The Derby.

BBC 5 Live’s lead presenter Mark Chapman, who had regularly introduced Hunt’s commentaries, struggled to hold back tears as he spoke about what had been “a heartbreaking day.”

The racing community also expressed its support for Hunt, with jockeys at Kempton Park Racecourse wearing black armbands and Newmarket Racecourse holding a minute’s silence.

People in Britain do not need a license to own a crossbow, but it is illegal to carry one in public without a reasonable excuse.

The new Labour Party government, which took office last week, said it would “swiftly consider” findings of a recently launched review into whether controls on owning crossbows should be tightened.

Security Minister Dan Jarvis said Home Secretary Yvette Cooper would “look clearly, very carefully at what happened yesterday ““ devastating events ““ and she will take a view in the near future.”

The weapon has been used in several high-profile crimes in recent years. In December 2021 a would-be assailant carrying a loaded crossbow broke into Windsor Castle after being encouraged by an AI chatbot to kill Queen Elizabeth II. Jaswant Singh Chail pleaded guilty to a treason charge and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

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