Jail for drunk who fired a crossbow at Wath vicar

Rev Sue Hobley at All Saints Church, Wath. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Rev Sue Hobley at All Saints Church, Wath. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

The vicar of Wath Parish Church had to take cover behind a gravestone when a drunken man on the roof took aim with a crossbow and fired a steel bolt, a court heard.

Armed police were called to force David Wood down from the roof of All Saints’ Church at gunpoint after the Rev Sue Hobley locked herself in the church hall and called for help.

Wood, 21 next month, of Campsall Field Road, Wath-upon-Dearne, wept in the dock at Sheffield Crown Court as a judge told him he would be failing in his public duty if he did not send him to jail.

The court was told the incident was ‘a cry for help’ because of the strain of caring for his dying grandmother.

Members of Wood’s ‘devastated’ family were in the public gallery to see him receive eight months in a young offenders’ institution.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of affray at the church on April 7 when Mrs Hobley went to investigate after the church intruder alarm went off around 2.45am.

Peter Hampton, prosecuting, said she looked up at the roof and behind the ramparts was a young man who lifted up a crossbow which he aimed directly at her.

She thought it was a gun and thought she was about to be shot so took cover behind a grave. Then she heard a bang, which was the crossbow being fired, although Wood later told police had aimed away from her to hit the ground.

A police armed response unit arrived after Mrs Hobley and her husband called police from the church hall and they forced him to the ground where a six inch long steel-tipped bolt was recovered. It was obvious he was drunk and he said he wanted to scare the vicar and get arrested, said Mr Hampton.

Defence counsel Michael Slater said Wood never intended to harm anyone and fired away from Mrs Hobley.

At the time the care of his grandmother, who has since died, had become increasingly onerous as her condition deteriorated. “He was not just sitting there having a chat, he was like a professional carer. They were responsibilities he found impossible to fulfil and having taken far too much drink he went out as a cry for help.

“It was irrational thinking. He realised he’d bitten off more than he could chew when the armed response unit turned up and he was ordered off the roof at gunpoint,” said Mr Slater.

The judge said it ‘gave him no pleasure at all’ to send Wood, who was of good character, to jail.