Man caught in Windsor Castle grounds with crossbow admits Treason Act charge

Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, was detained on Christmas Day 2021 close to the Queen’s private residence.

Man caught in Windsor Castle grounds with crossbow admits Treason Act charge

A man caught in the grounds of Windsor Castle with a loaded crossbow has admitted a charge under the Treason Act of trying to harm the Queen.

Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, was detained on Christmas Day 2021 close to the Queen’s private residence, where she and other members of the royal family were at the time.

The former supermarket worker had scaled the perimeter of the grounds with a nylon rope ladder at around 6am.

The Queen
Jaswant Singh Chail admitted trying to harm the Queen (Steve Parsons/PA)

Wearing black clothes, gloves and a metal mask, Chail told them: “I’m here to kill the Queen.”

Chail was carrying a crossbow loaded with a bolt and with the safety catch off.

The officer drew a Taser and the intruder was ordered to drop his weapon before he was arrested and handcuffed.

Afterwards, detectives trawled through CCTV and established that Chail had travelled to Windsor on December 23 2021.

Court artist sketch of Jaswant Singh Chail
Jaswant Singh Chail was carrying a crossbow loaded with a bolt and with the safety catch off (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

In it, Chail wore a dark hoodie and mask and brandished his weapon, as he said in a distorted voice: “I’m sorry for what I have done and what I will do.”

He sent the video via Snapchat to about 20 people in his contacts list about 10 minutes before he was detained.

Tests on the Supersonic X-Bow found it to be comparable to a powerful air rifle, with the potential to cause serious or fatal injury.

Bolts, a metal file and other items were later found in a hotel room where Chail had stayed the night before.

Jaswant Singh Chail court case
A mask Chail was wearing when arrested (CPS/PA)

Chail, who was charged on August 2 last year, had previously applied to join the Ministry of Defence Police and the Grenadier Guards, in a bid to get close to the royal family.

At the time of his arrest, Chail, from Southampton, Hampshire, was unemployed but had previously worked at a branch of the Co-op supermarket.

On Friday, the defendant appeared at the Old Bailey by video-link from Broadmoor high security hospital, wearing a black jacket with fake-fur collar.

He confirmed his identity then pleaded guilty to three charges, including an offence under the Treason Act.

He also admitted making a threat to kill the Queen and having a loaded crossbow in a public place.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker adjourned sentencing until March 31 before Mr Justice Hilliard at the Old Bailey.

Earlier, prosecutor Alison Morgan KC told the court that a psychiatric report found Chail was fit to stand trial.

She suggested a hospital order may not be an appropriate sentence, as Chail’s mental health had improved with treatment.

Commander Richard Smith, who leads the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This was an extremely serious incident, but one which the patrolling officers who apprehended Chail managed with great composure and professionalism.

“They showed tremendous bravery to confront a masked man who was armed with a loaded crossbow, and then detain him without anyone coming to harm.

“Our Royalty and Specialist Protection Command works with the Royal Household and local police forces at various royal residences across the country to ensure those living, working or visiting are kept safe.”

The allegations against Chail were not being treated as a terrorism offence but had been dealt with by the Counter Terrorism Division.

Windsor Castle
Chail was caught in the grounds of Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

“This was a serious incident, but fortunately a rare one. We are grateful to all those who were involved in the investigation.”

Under the 1842 Treason Act it is an offence to assault the sovereign or have a firearm or offensive weapon in their presence with intent to injure or alarm them or to cause a breach of peace.

It was created after an incident on May 29 1842, when Queen Victoria was riding in a carriage along The Mall and a man called John Francis aimed a pistol at her but did not fire it.

He did it again the next day and was arrested and convicted of high treason.

Jaswant Singh Chail court case
The crossbow Chail was carrying when arrested in the grounds of Windsor Castle (CPS/PA)

Two days later, John Bean fired a pistol at the Queen which was loaded only with paper and tobacco.

Prince Albert encouraged Parliament to pass a law recognising such lesser crimes as intent to alarm.

Under this section of the act, Marcus Sarjeant was jailed for five years in 1981 for firing blank shots at the Queen when she was on parade.

The last person to be convicted under the separate and more serious 1351 Treason Act – commonly known as high treason – was William Joyce, aka Lord Haw-Haw, who collaborated with Germany during the Second World War.

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