Crossbow killer victim, 27, begged 'I'm pregnant' as she pleaded for her life after seeing partner fatally shot

A CROSSBOW killer's victim begged for her unborn daughter's life after watching her partner get fatally shot.

Laura Sugden, then 27, pleaded "I'm pregnant" as Anthony Lawrence tried to force the crossbow bolt into her neck.

She said: "I was pleading with him. I said 'I'm pregnant'. I have children.

"He said 'I'm not bothered'. He did not really care."

She managed to wrench the bolt from his grasp as they struggled together on the floor of her home in Southburn, near Driffield, East Yorkshire.

Laura, who was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, hoped to turn the bolt against the fiend who had fired it with the help of wounded partner Shane Gilmer – but he was already dying.

The young couple were ambushed as they returned home from a date at an Italian restaurant while Laura's first daughter was away for the night.

Their lonely village consists of only 20 houses with few street lights and was described as "a sleepy hamlet".

As they pulled up in the dark around 9pm she was alarmed to seen Lawrence's blue Vauxhall Meriva parked outside their two adjoining rented semis.

He had been absent for a week which was strange because he had never been known to leave his house overnight, she told an inquest.

Unknown to them, he had been overhearing the couple's conversations and was convinced they were "cooking up a plan to get him out".

Laura said they had already reported him to the letting agent and to Humberside Police.

She told cops that Lawrence had threatened to kill Shane with an axe in a dispute over Lawrence playing loud music and having his TV blaring out late into the night.


They also told the force that they suspected Lawrence was growing cannabis on the property.

The odour was so bad that it was aggravating her first daughter Isabelle's asthma.

She said: "Sometimes it was so strong it was like someone was smoking cannabis in my daughter's bedroom."

Shane was so concerned about what Lawrence would do that he had started sleeping with his own axe.

Laura was already "on edge" when she went upstairs to turn on the electric blanket and spotted a black circle on the cream carpet under the loft hatch.

She opened her bedroom door to find nobody there.

She then opened her daughter's room to find Lawrence standing armed with the bow by the chest of drawers.

She told Hull Coroners Court: "I said 'What are you doing in my house?' He did not really reply.

"He pushed me back into the bedroom. I shouted 'Shane don't come upstairs'. Then I heard Shane coming up stairs."

She had fallen on the bed when she was pushed so she crawled under the duvet and dialled 999.

Then she heard Shane groaning – he had already been shot but she had not heard a sound as the deadly bolt found its mark.

Shane crawled into the room followed by Lawrence who was demanding Shane hand over his mobile phone.

Shane was struggling to wrest it from his pocket so Lawrence ordered Laura to help.

He then stamped on the phone, left the room to reload the crossbow and returned to shoot her, hitting the top of her head.


She said: "After he shot me I pulled the arrow out of my head and walked around to Shane.

"I asked if what he had done to Shane would kill him. He said it would and he was going to kill me as well."

Lawrence then jumped on top of Laura. Both had hold of the bolt and Lawrence was trying to force it into her neck.

When she pleaded that she was pregnant "he said he already knew because he had been listening to us".

She wanted to stay by her dying partner's side but he told her to run, saying: "Keep you safe and baby safe or I will never forgive you."

She ran 200 yards to a neighbour's house, hoping Lawrence would follow and leave Shane alone.

She was desperate to return to be by his side when the emergency services arrived but was too badly injured.

She had no idea her neighbour owned a crossbow and at first thought he was using a bow and arrow.

He told his letting agent who was in the process of evicting him that he "wanted to live on the middle of nowhere where no one would bother me".

The letting agent, Katie Hardcastle, said there was "an obvious cannabis smell" lingering in an empty box room which had been recently cleaned with powerful chemicals.

Neighbour Zoe Rymer was enjoying a glass of wine when she heard a frantic hammering on her door.

"I looked out and saw a girl standing at the door who was absolutely covered in blood," she said.

"I though she had been in a car crash. I could not see what sort of a dress she was wearing because she was drenched in blood.

"There was a gaping hole in her neck. When I moved her, blood came out like a tap. She said she had been shot with an arrow."

The inquest heard previously that Shane told 999 operators the bolt was "10 inches into my body", adding: "It's right in. It ripped through my arm as well."

He was rushed to hospital but the bolt had become lodged in his spine and sadly he couldn't be saved.

A huge manhunt was launched for Lawrence in the sleepy village after he fled the bloodbath.

His body was eventually found two days later on the North York Moors on January 14, 2018.

Hull Coroner's Court heard how he had been locked in "various disputes" with Shane and Laura over his behaviour.

After he was evicted from his home, raging Lawrence dumped manure on Shane and Laura's garden.

We've lost so much as a family, a fantastic, caring, loving son, brother and dad. His little girls cry themselves to sleep each night because they miss their daddy.

On January 12, 2018, he broke into their home through the dividing wall between their lofts and lay in wait as the pair enjoyed a date night.

When they returned home, Laura was horrified to find the killer in her home clutching a loaded crossbow.

He fired the weapon at Shane – breaking his arm and a rib and damaging his liver and kidney.

Lawrence also shot Laura, who managed to flee to a neighbour's home with her throat cut.

She miraculously survived the attack but Shane tragically passed away despite the "heroic" efforts of medics.

Laura, who moved back with her parents, gave birth to a baby girl in August 2018.

Shane, a housing officer for East Riding Council, also had two daughters from a previous relationship.

Devastated mum Pam told the hearing: "Shane was always friendly and helpful. Everyone loved him and he had lots of friends.

"Shane's life was horrendously cut short and our lives will never be the same again. He was always full of fun and was a bit mischievous as well.

"We've lost so much as a family, a fantastic, caring, loving son, brother and dad.

"His little girls cry themselves to sleep each night because they miss their daddy."

Dr Matthew Lyall, a Home Office forensic pathologist, told the inquest the bolt was "firmly embedded" in his spinal column and "difficult to remove".


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